Kiekens A, Dehens J, de Hemptinne M, Galouchka M, Sajud A, Vanhoorebeeck C, van Otzel RP, Wyszkowsk M, Baert S, Bernard EJ, Nova Blanco JR, Dierck T, Mosha F, Sanged RZ, Theys K, Van den Eede A, R Jordan MR, Vandamme A-M.
Transdisciplinary Insights. Volume 3, Number 1, 26 December 2019.
HIV drug resistance (HIVDR) in Tanzania is a complex problem with many interconnected causes. Some important factors contributing to the selection of drug resistant viruses in people infected with HIV are stigma, poverty, poor health, illiteracy, and insufficient adherence to antiretroviral therapy. Several studies have suggested the implementation of peer support groups as a way to shift the workload associated with adherence support, antiretroviral therapy (ART) distribution, and HIV education away from the doctors to the people living with HIV (PLHIV) themselves. We conducted interviews with local PLHIV to investigate the desirability and feasibility of a peer support group in the Pasada and Kisarawe hospitals in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. A standardized questionnaire was completed by 27 PLHIV in July and August 2017 at the time of a follow-up visit. In this cohort, major causes for missing a dose of ART are lack of support from family and friends and forgetfulness. Reasons for wanting to join a peer support group include psychological support, fighting stigma, and increasing education about their disease. Interestingly, several respondents linked HIV peer support to business support groups such as village community banks (VICOBA). These are informal microfinance groups meant to offer economic stability to individuals. As this link was made by PLHIV themselves, we suggest that it may be worthwhile to explore mixed financial and HIV peer support groups in which HIV education is provided for both HIV positive and negative members. Such groups may reduce the risk of infection and stigma and provide combined psychological, financial, and logistic support to PLHIV.