Integrating HIV care and treatment into primary healthcare : are clinics equipped?

Crowley, Talitha ; Stellenberg, Ethelwynn L. (2014-08-28)

CITATION: Crowley, T. & Stellenberg, Ethelwynn L. 2014. Integrating HIV care and treatment into primary healthcare : are clinics equipped?. African Journal of Primary Health Care & Family Medicine, 6(1): 1-7, doi: 10.4102/phcfm.v6i1.616.

The original publication is available at

Publication of this article was funded by the Stellenbosch University Open Access Fund.


Background: The demand for HIV care and treatment services is increasing rapidly and strategies to sustain long-term care should be employed. The decentralisation and integration of HIV care and treatment services into primary healthcare (PHC) is vitally important in order to ensure optimal access to life-saving antiretroviral therapy and ongoing chronic care. Conversely, the PHC system is fraught with the current burden of disease. Setting: The study was conducted in PHC clinics in the uMgungundlovu district, Kwa-Zulu Natal. Aim: The objectives of the study were to assess whether PHC clinics were equipped to deliver integrated HIV services and to evaluate the availability of resources as well as support systems for HIV care and treatment in PHC clinics. Methods: A quantitative, cross-sectional descriptive study was undertaken in 20 randomlyselected, eligible clinics in the uMgungundlovu district, KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa. An evaluation instrument was completed through observations and review of the clinic data records. Criteria were based on the World Health Organization’s guide to indicators for antiretroviral programmes as well as South African HIV standards for PHC facilities. Results: None of the clinics were equipped adequately. Clinics with a higher patient load had poorer scores, whilst clinics providing antiretroviral therapy were better equipped in terms of human resources and infrastructure. Conclusion: HIV services are an essential part of primary healthcare and clinics need to be equipped adequately in order to render this service. It is unlikely that the over-burdened health system would be able to cope with an increased number of patients on antiretroviral therapy in the long term, whilst maintaining quality of services, without support being given to PHC clinics.

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