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Citation Information

Type Journal Article - AIDS Research and Therapy
Title Self-care practices and experiences of people living with HIV not receiving antiretroviral therapy in an urban community of Lusaka, Zambia: implications for HIV treatment programmes
Author(s)
Volume 10
Issue 1
Publication (Day/Month/Year) 2013
Page numbers 12
URL https://aidsrestherapy.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/1742-6405-10-12
Abstract
Background
Despite the increasingly wider availability of antiretroviral therapy (ART), some people living with HIV (PLHIV) and eligible for treatment have opted to adopt self-care practices thereby risking early AIDS-related mortality.

Methods
A qualitative study was conducted in urban Zambia to gain insights into PLHIV self-care practices and experiences and explore the implications for successful delivery of ART care. Between March 2010 and September 2011, in-depth interviews were conducted with PLHIV who had dropped out of treatment (n=25) and those that had opted not to initiate medication (n=37). Data was entered into and managed using Atlas ti, and analysed inductively using latent content analysis.

Results
PHIV used therapeutic and physical health maintenance, psychological well-being and healthy lifestyle self-care practices to maintain physical health and mitigate HIV-related symptoms. Herbal remedies, faith healing and self-prescription of antibiotics and other conventional medicines to treat HIV-related ailments were used for therapeutic and physical health maintenance purposes. Psychological well-being self-care practices used were religiosity/spirituality and positive attitudes towards HIV infection. These practices were modulated by close social network relationships with other PLHIV, family members and peers, who acted as sources of emotional, material and financial support. Cessations of sexual relationships, adoption of safe sex to avoid re-infections and uptake of nutritional supplements were the commonly used risk reduction and healthy lifestyle practices respectively.

Conclusions
While these self-care practices may promote physical and psychosocial well-being and mitigate AIDS-related symptoms, at least in the short term, they however undermine PLHIV access to ART care thereby putting PLHIV at risk of early AIDS-related mortality. The use of scientifically unproven herbal remedies raises health and safety concerns; faith healing may create fatalism and resignation with death while the reported self-prescription of antibiotics to treat HIV-related infections raises concerns about future development of microbial drug resistance amongst PLHIV. Collectively, these self-care practices undermine efforts to effectively abate the spread and burden of HIV and reduce AIDS-related mortality. Therefore, there is need for sensitization campaigns on the benefits of ART and the risks associated with widespread self-prescription of antibiotics and use of scientifically unproven herbal remedies.

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