Factors influencing access to antiretroviral treatment in Benue State, Nigeria
Omenka, Charity Ochuole
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The study utilized a qualitative case study design to explore the problem of poor access to ART in Benue State. PLWHAs, policy makers, program managers and health workers were involved in an effort to describe the factors influencing access to ART in the State. Semi structured interviews, exit interviews and focus group discussions were used. To analyse the findings, categorization was done into facilitators and barriers to access, in addition to the ways respondents believe these barriers can be overcome. Other sub-themes were also identified and sorted. Themes were linked to direct quotes from the respondents. Additional literature review was done to review available information on the themes identified. Facilitators of access included free cost and increased number of sites; beneficial effects of ART; disclosure, membership in a support group and having a treatment partner. Barriers included stigma and discrimination; hunger, poverty, transportation and opportunity costs; hospital factors; non-disclosure; inaccurate knowledge and perceptions about HIV and ART; certain religious beliefs and advice; coverage, capping of services and fear of non-availability of ART. In addition to stigma, patients bypass closer ART access points to further away hospitals because of business opportunities; financial assistance; perceived better standard of care and hope that a cure, when found, will be more accessible to patients in bigger hospitals.