Perceptions of alcohol use in the context of HIV treatment : a qualitative study

Madhombiro, Munyaradzi ; Marimbe-Dube, Bazondlile ; Dube, Michelle ; Kaiyo-Utete, Malinda ; Paradzai, Angeline ; Chibanda, Dixon ; Rusakaniko, Simbarashe ; Van Der Watt, A. S. J. ; Seedat, Soraya (2018)

CITATION: Madhombiro, M., et al. 2018. Perceptions of alcohol use in the context of HIV treatment : a qualitative study. HIV/AIDS - Research and Palliative Care, 10:47-55, doi:10.2147/HIV.S150095.

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Background: Alcohol use is associated with poor HIV treatment outcomes. This study aimed to understand patients’ perceptions of the impact of alcohol use in the context of HIV care. Methods: The study design was a descriptive qualitative study of HIV positive individuals receiving antiretroviral treatment. The study involved four focus group discussions with male and female participants at a tertiary center, city clinic, and rural church. We employed convenience sampling and invited patients coming for their routine visits and medication refills to participate. Results: Participants had an awareness of both the direct and indirect effects of alcohol use. The direct effects related to the incompatibility of HIV medication and alcohol. The indirect effects related to the negative impact of alcohol on treatment adherence. Participants proffered reasons why HIV infected individuals on HIV treatment drink and felt that patients had to make a deliberate choice to stop drinking. Participants displayed some knowledge of interventions for drinking cessation and highlighted the use of pharmacological interventions to stop drinking. Participants indicated that they preferred HIV counselors to provide counseling services in view of the existing relationships that patients had with counselors. Conclusion: People living with HIV have adequate knowledge of the effects of alcohol use in the context of HIV treatment. Stigma and the time taken to engage in an alcohol use intervention appeared to be the main impediments to uptake. The current model of HIV treatment, based on trust with the HIV care team, and maintenance of this trust, could bolster the uptake of an intervention. Involvement of HIV patients in their treatment is necessary to improve treatment outcomes in the context of alcohol use.

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