Knowledge of HIV-related disabilities and challenges in accessing care: Qualitative research from Zimbabwe.

Banks, LM; Zuurmond, M; Ferrand, R; Kuper, H; (2017) Knowledge of HIV-related disabilities and challenges in accessing care: Qualitative research from Zimbabwe. PloS one, 12 (8). e0181144. ISSN 1932-6203 DOI:

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While the rapid expansion in antiretroviral therapy access in low and middle income countries has resulted in dramatic declines in mortality rates, many people living with HIV face new or worsening experiences of disability. As nearly 1 in 20 adults are living with HIV in sub-Saharan Africa-many of whom are likely to develop disabling sequelae from long-term infection, co-morbidities and side effects of their treatment-understanding the availability and accessibility of services to address HIV-related disabilities is of vital importance. The aim of this study thus is to explore knowledge of HIV-related disabilities amongst stakeholders working in the fields of HIV and disability and factors impacting uptake and provision of interventions for preventing, treating or managing HIV-related disabilities. In-depth, semi-structured interviews were conducted with ten stakeholders based in Harare, Zimbabwe, who were working in the fields of either disability or HIV. Stakeholders were identified through a priori stakeholder analysis. Thematic Analysis, complemented by constant comparison as described in Grounded Theory, was used to analyse findings. All key informants reported some level of knowledge of HIV-related disability, mostly from observations made in their line of work. However, they reported no interventions or policies were in place specifically to address HIV-related disability. While referrals between HIV and rehabilitation providers were not uncommon, no formal mechanisms had been established for collaborating on prevention, identification and management. Additional barriers to accessing and providing services to address HIV-related disabilities included: the availability of resources, including trained professionals, supplies and equipment in both the HIV and rehabilitation sectors; lack of disability-inclusive adaptations, particularly in HIV services; heavy centralization of available services in urban areas, without accessible, affordable transportation links; and attitudes and understanding among service providers and people living with HIV-related disabilities. As people living with HIV are surviving longer, HIV-related disabilities will become a major source of disability globally, particularly in sub-Saharan Africa where infection is endemic. Preventing, treating and managing HIV-related disabilities must become a key component of both HIV response efforts and rehabilitation strategies.

Item Type: Article
Faculty and Department: Faculty of Infectious and Tropical Diseases > Dept of Clinical Research
Research Centre: International Centre for Eye Health
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PubMed ID: 28793316
Web of Science ID: 407196700007


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