Assessment of antiretroviral therapy knowledge and willingness of persons with HIV to support its uptake in Uganda
Richard Batamwita1, David M Moore2, Rachel King3, Edward Mills4, Anne L Stangl5
1Mildmay Centre, Kampala, Uganda; 2British Columbia Centre for Excellence in HIV/AIDS, Vancouver, Canada; 3Karolinska Institute, Stockholm, Sweden; 4University of Ottawa, Ottawa, Canada; 5International Center for Research on Women, Washington, DC, USA
Background: Access to care and treatment services for human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)/acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS) are hampered by human resource constraints and knowledge gaps about antiretroviral therapy. Training people with HIV/AIDS (PWA) as educators on antiretroviral therapy may help in the expansion of antiretroviral therapy-related knowledge in Africa. The aim of this study was to assess the antiretroviral therapy-specific knowledge, beliefs, and attitudes of PWA as well as their proactive communication with community members and to explore their willingness to serve as support personnel.
Methods: Data were obtained from a large randomized trial of PWA. We analyzed qualitative and quantitative data from 524 PWA aged 18 years and over who initiated home-based antiretroviral therapy in 2003. We assessed knowledge and communication of HIV prevention and treatment messages by PWA to communities using structured messages complemented with other knowledge questions and the willingness of PWA to serve as support persons. Descriptive bivariate associations and logistic regression statistical methods were performed. In addition, qualitative data analysis was used.
Results: The level of knowledge about antiretroviral therapy was high among all PWA on several technical attributes. Overall, 90% of PWA reported that they had been consulted by community members for informed opinions on antiretroviral therapy, 70% felt they were opinion leaders on aspects of antiretroviral therapy within the communities, and approximately 70% were willing to be engaged as community support persons. Those who were classified as opinion leaders reported being approached more regularly by community members for expert advice about antiretroviral therapy compared with nonopinion leaders (odds ratio [OR] 11.7; 95% confidence interval [CI] 7.3–18.6), and opinion leaders were significantly more informed on most technical attributes of antiretroviral therapy, such as “who qualifies for antiretroviral therapy based on CD4 count” (OR 1.6, 95% CI 1.1–2.0) and “the need to be evaluated for antiretroviral therapy” (OR 1.8, 95% CI 1.2–2.0).
Conclusion: Opinion leaders demonstrated correct knowledge and willingness to provide information on antiretroviral therapy care and treatment issues and were, in turn, consulted more frequently for antiretroviral therapy advice compared with nonopinion leaders. Training opinion leaders to work as community support personnel may increase knowledge about antiretroviral therapy in underserved communities.
Keywords: opinion leaders, antiretroviral therapy, knowledge, proactive communication, Uganda, human immunodeficiency virus
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