Author(s): Tafese Z, Birhan Y, Abebe H
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Abstract Background Improving nutritional care and support for people living with HIV (PLHIV) is an integral part of comprehensive HIV treatment according to the National Nutritional Strategy of Ethiopia. However, there is no adequate published study that assesses the nutritional care and support services for adult people living with HIV/ AIDS (PLHIV) in this setting. Objective The objective of the study was to identify the existing nutritional care and support services and determine the challenges facing adults living with HIV at Hawassa Referral Hospital in southern Ethiopia. Methods A qualitative study was carried out using focus group discussions (FGDs), in-depth interviews and participant observation. Four FDGs were held and five in-depth interviews were conducted. A two-week participant observation was also conducted by trained nurses. All interviews and FDGs were tape-recorded and transcribed; those conducted in Amharic were translated back to English. Finally thematic analysis of the transcripts was performed. Results Most of the FDG participants were unsatisfied with their nutritional care and support services and expressed difficulty with disclosing their HIV status for fear of stigma and discrimination. The in-depth interviews and participant observation showed results similar to those of the FDG. Some key informants expressed a fear that such poor nutritional care and support may threaten the quality of life of people living with HIV and suggested that all stakeholders work on improving the services. Conclusion Current nutritional care and support services for people living with HIV are not well coordinated. They focus mainly on monthly supplementation of antiretroviral drugs and occasional handouts of food. The need to provide health education on antiretroviral drugs and nutrition, and to emphasise strategies aimed at improving the nutritional status of peoples living with HIV is critical. Furthermore, the study recommended strengthening the initiatives of some organisations regarding sustainable income-generating activities.
This article was published in Afr J AIDS Res
and referenced in Pharmaceutica Analytica Acta