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1.
J Int AIDS Soc ; 25(8): e25944, 2022 08.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-2013582

ABSTRACT

INTRODUCTION: Zimbabwe adopted differentiated HIV care policies in 2015 to promote client-centred care and relieve strain on health facilities. We examined the availability, experiences and perceptions of differentiated antiretroviral therapy (ART) delivery in rural Zimbabwe following the policy adoption. METHODS: We undertook a cross-sectional mixed methods study in all the 26 facilities providing HIV care in a rural district in Zimbabwe. We collected quantitative data about ART delivery and visit durations from 31 healthcare providers and a purposive stratified sample of 378 clients obtaining ART either through routine care or differentiated ART delivery models. We performed 26 semi-structured interviews among healthcare providers and seven focus group discussions (FGDs) among clients to elicit their perceptions and experiences of ART delivery. Data were collected in 2019, with one follow-up FGD in 2021. We analysed the transcripts thematically, with inductive coding, to identify emerging themes. RESULTS: Twenty facilities (77%) offered at least one differentiated ART delivery models, including community ART refill groups (CARGs; 13 facilities, 50%), fast-track refill (8, 31%), family refill (6, 23%) or club refill (1, 4%). Thirteen facilities (50%) offered only one model. The median visit duration was 28 minutes (interquartile range [IQR]: 16-62). Participants in fast-track had the shortest visit durations (18 minutes, IQR: 11-24). Confidentiality and disclosure of HIV status, travelling long distances, travel costs and waiting times were the main issues influencing clients' views on differentiated ART delivery. Fast-track refill was perceived as the preferred model of clients for its limited involuntary disclosure and efficiency. In contrast, group- and community-based refill models reduced travel costs but were felt to be associated with involuntary disclosure of HIV status, which could discourage clients. Healthcare providers also experienced an additional workload when offering facility-based group models, such as CARGs. CONCLUSIONS: Differentiated ART delivery models were widely available in this rural setting, but most facilities did not offer a choice of models to address clients' diverse preferences. A minority offered fast-track refills, although this model was often mentioned as desirable. Confidentiality, travel expenses and client waiting times are key elements to consider when planning and rolling out differentiated HIV care.


Subject(s)
Anti-HIV Agents , HIV Infections , Anti-HIV Agents/therapeutic use , Cross-Sectional Studies , Focus Groups , HIV Infections/drug therapy , Humans , Zimbabwe
2.
J Int AIDS Soc ; 25(7): e25968, 2022 07.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1958777

ABSTRACT

INTRODUCTION: Community-based delivery of HIV pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) to South African adolescent girls and young women's (AGYW) could increase access but needs evaluation. We integrated PrEP services via home-based services and pop-up tents into existing community-based HIV testing services (CB-HTS) in Eastern Cape Province, South Africa. METHODS: After accessing CB-HTS via a "pop-up" tent or home-based services, HIV-negative AGYW aged 16-25 years were invited to complete a baseline questionnaire and referred for PrEP services at a community-based PrEP site co-located with pop-up HTS tents. A 30-day supply of PrEP was dispensed. PrEP uptake, time-to-initiation, cohort characteristics and first medication refill within 90 days were measured using descriptive statistics. RESULTS: Of the 1164 AGYW who tested for HIV, 825 (74.3%) completed a questionnaire and 806 (97.7%) were referred for community-based PrEP. Of those, 624 (77.4%) presented for PrEP (482/483 [99.8%] from pop-up HTS and 142/323 [44.0%] from home-based HTS), of which 603 (96.6%) initiated PrEP. Of those initiating PrEP following home-based HTS, 59.1% initiated within 0-3 days, 25.6% within 4-14 days and 15.3% took ≥15 days to initiate; 100% of AGYW who used pop-up HTS initiated PrEP the same day. Among AGWY initiating PrEP, 37.5% had a detectable sexually transmitted infection (STI). Although AGYW reported a low self-perception of HIV risk, post-hoc application of HIV risk assessment measures to available data classified most study participants as high risk for HIV acquisition. Cumulatively, 329 (54.6%) AGYW presented for a first medication refill within 90 days of accepting their first bottle of PrEP. CONCLUSIONS: Leveraging CB-HTS platforms to provide same-day PrEP initiation and refill services was acceptable to AGYW. A higher proportion of AGYW initiated PrEP when co-located with CB-HTS sites compared to those referred following home-based HTS, suggesting that proximity of CB-HTS and PrEP services facilitates PrEP uptake among AGYW. The high prevalence of STIs among those initiating PrEP necessitates the integration of STI and HIV prevention programs for AGYW. Eligibility for PrEP initiation should not be required among AHYW in high HIV burden communities. Community-based service delivery will be crucial to maintaining access to PrEP services during the COVID-19 pandemic and future health and humanitarian emergencies.


Subject(s)
Anti-HIV Agents , COVID-19 , HIV Infections , Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis , Adolescent , Anti-HIV Agents/therapeutic use , Counseling , Feasibility Studies , Female , HIV Infections/diagnosis , HIV Infections/drug therapy , HIV Infections/prevention & control , Humans , Pandemics , South Africa
3.
J Int AIDS Soc ; 25(7): e25967, 2022 07.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1958775

ABSTRACT

INTRODUCTION: Globally, over half of the estimated new HIV infections now occur among key populations, including men who have sex with men, sex workers, people who inject drugs, transgender individuals, and people in prisons and other closed settings, and their sexual partners. Reaching epidemic control will, for many countries, increasingly require intensified programming and targeted resource allocation to meet the needs of key populations and their sexual partners. However, insufficient funding, both in terms of overall amounts and the way the funding is spent, contributes to the systematic marginalization of key populations from needed HIV services. DISCUSSION: The Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) has recently highlighted the urgent need to take action to end inequalities, including those faced by key populations, which have only been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic. To address these inequalities and improve health outcomes, key population programs must expand the use of a trusted access platform, scale up differentiated service delivery models tailored to the needs of key populations, rollout structural interventions and ensure service integration. These critical program elements are often considered "extras," not necessities, and consequently costing studies of key population programs systematically underestimate the total and unitary costs of services for key populations. Findings from a recent costing study from the LINKAGES project suggest that adequate funding for these four program elements can yield benefits in program performance. Despite this and other evidence, the lack of data on the true costs of these elements and the costs of failing to provide them prevents sufficient investment in these critical elements. CONCLUSIONS: As nations strive to reach the 2030 UNAIDS goals, donors, governments and implementers should reconsider the true, but often hidden costs in future healthcare dollars and in lives if they fail to invest in the community-based and community-driven key population programs that address structural inequities. Supporting these efforts contributes to closing the remaining gaps in the 95-95-95 goals. The financial and opportunity cost of perpetuating inequities and missing those who must be reached in the last mile of HIV epidemic control must be considered.


Subject(s)
COVID-19 , HIV Infections , Sexual and Gender Minorities , HIV Infections/drug therapy , HIV Infections/epidemiology , HIV Infections/prevention & control , Homosexuality, Male , Humans , Male , Pandemics/prevention & control
4.
Diagnostics (Basel) ; 12(2)2022 Feb 03.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1674534

ABSTRACT

Digital tools can support community-based decentralized testing initiatives to broaden access to COVID-19 diagnosis, especially in high-transmission settings. This operational study investigated the use of antigen-detecting rapid diagnostic tests (Ag-RDTs) for COVID-19 combined with an end-to-end digital health solution, in three taxi ranks in Johannesburg, South Africa. Members of the public were eligible if they were aged ≥18 years, could read, and had a cellphone. Over 15,000 participants, enrolled between June and September 2021, were screened for COVID-19 risk factors. A digital risk questionnaire identified 2061 (13%) participants as moderate risk and 2987 (19%) as high risk, based on symptoms and/or recent exposure to a known case. Of this group referred for testing, 3997 (79%) received Ag-RDTs, with positivity rates of 5.1% in the "high-risk" group and 0.8% in the "moderate-risk" group. A subset of 569 randomly selected participants received additional PCR testing. Sensitivity of the Ag-RDT in this setting was 40% (95% CI: 30.3%, 50.3%); most false negatives had high cycle threshold values (>25), hence low viral loads. Over 80% of participants who tested positive completed a 2-week phone-based follow-up questionnaire. Overall, the digital tool combined with Ag-RDTs enhanced community-based decentralized COVID-19 testing service delivery, reporting and follow-up.

5.
Int J Drug Policy ; 101: 103570, 2022 03.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1587942

ABSTRACT

BACKGROUND: Healthcare delivery was disrupted during the COVID-19 pandemic, requiring minimized in-person contact between patients and clinicians. During the pandemic, people with opioid use disorder (OUD) were not only at elevated risk for COVID-19, but had markedly reduced access to treatment for OUD, Hepatitis C virus (HCV) and HIV due to recommended decreased in-person visits. METHODS: From March 15-June 15, 2020 at the syringe services program (SSP) in New Haven, Connecticut, USA, a differentiated care model evolved with reduced clinical demands on people who inject drugs (PWID) to ensure screening and treatment for HCV, HIV and OUD, with a focus on HCV treatment. This model involved a single, bundled screening, evaluation, testing (SET) and monitoring strategy for all three conditions, minimal in-person visits, followed by tele-health communication between patients, outreach workers and clinicians. In-person visits occurred only during induction onto methadone and phlebotomy at baseline and phlebotomy 12 weeks post-treatment for HCV to measure sustained virological response (SVR). Patients received supportive texts/calls from outreach workers and clinicians. RESULTS: Overall, 66 actively injecting PWID, all with OUD, underwent bundled laboratory screening; 35 had chronic HCV infection. Participants were 40 years (mean), mostly white (N = 18) men (N = 28) and 12 were unstably housed. Two were lost to-follow-up and 2 were incarcerated, leaving 31 who started pan-genotypic direct-acting antivirals (DAAs). The mean time from referral to initial phlebotomy and initiation of DAAs was 6.9 and 9.9 days, respectively. Fourteen additional patients were newly started on buprenorphine and 6 started on methadone; three and four, respectively, were on treatment at baseline. Overall, 29 (93.5%) PWID who initiated DAAs achieved SVR; among unstably housed persons the SVR was 83.3%. CONCLUSIONS: In response to COVID-19, an innovative differentiated care model for PWID at an SSP evolved that included successful co-treatment for HCV, HIV and OUD using a client-centered approach that reduces treatment demands on patients yet supports ongoing access to evidence-based treatments.


Subject(s)
COVID-19 , Drug Users , Hepatitis C, Chronic , Hepatitis C , Opioid-Related Disorders , Substance Abuse, Intravenous , Telemedicine , Antiviral Agents , Hepacivirus , Hepatitis C/drug therapy , Hepatitis C/epidemiology , Hepatitis C, Chronic/drug therapy , Humans , Male , Opioid-Related Disorders/drug therapy , Opioid-Related Disorders/therapy , Pandemics , Pharmaceutical Preparations , SARS-CoV-2 , Substance Abuse, Intravenous/epidemiology , Syringes
6.
J Int AIDS Soc ; 24 Suppl 6: e25816, 2021 10.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1487492

ABSTRACT

INTRODUCTION: Same-day antiretroviral therapy (SDART) initiation has been implemented at the Thai Red Cross Anonymous Clinic (TRCAC) in Bangkok, Thailand, since 2017. HIV-positive, antiretroviral therapy (ART)-naïve clients who are willing and clinically eligible start ART on the day of HIV diagnosis. In response to the first wave of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) outbreak in March 2020, telehealth follow-up was established to comply with COVID-19 preventive measures and allow service continuation. Here, we evaluate its implementation. METHODS: Pre-COVID-19 (until February 2020) clients who initiated SDART received a 2-week ART supply and returned to the clinic for evaluation before being referred to long-term ART maintenance facilities. If no adverse events (AEs) occurred, another 8-week ART supply was provided while referral was arranged. During the first wave of COVID-19 (March-May 2020), clients received a 4-week ART supply and the option of conducting follow-up consultation and physical examination via video call. Clients with severe AEs were required to return to TRCAC; those without received another 6-week ART supply by courier to bridge transition to long-term facilities. This adaptation continued post-first wave (May-August 2020). Routine service data were analysed using data from March to August 2019 for the pre-COVID-19 period. Interviews and thematic analysis were conducted to understand experiences of clients and providers, and gain feedback for service improvement. RESULTS: Of 922, 183 and 321 eligible clients from the three periods, SDART reach [89.9%, 96.2% and 92.2% (p = 0.018)] and ART initiation rates [88.1%, 90.9% and 94.9% (p<0.001)] were high. ART uptake, time to ART initiation and rates of follow-up completion improved over time. After the integration, 35.3% received the telehealth follow-up. The rates of successful referral to a long-term facility (91.8% vs. 95.3%, p = 0.535) and retention in care at months 3 (97.5% vs. 98.0%, p = 0.963) and 6 (94.1% vs. 98.4%, p = 0.148) were comparable for those receiving in-person and telehealth follow-up. Six clients and nine providers were interviewed; six themes on service experience and feedback were identified. CONCLUSIONS: Telehealth follow-up with ART delivery for SDART clients is a feasible option to differentiate ART initiation services at TRCAC, which led to its incorporation into routine service.


Subject(s)
Anti-HIV Agents , COVID-19 , HIV Infections , Telemedicine , Anti-HIV Agents/therapeutic use , HIV Infections/diagnosis , HIV Infections/drug therapy , Humans , SARS-CoV-2 , Thailand
7.
J Int AIDS Soc ; 24 Suppl 6: e25814, 2021 10.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1487491

ABSTRACT

INTRODUCTION: The advent of COVID-19 has put pressure on health systems as they implement measures to reduce the risk of transmission to people living with HIV (PLHIV) and healthcare workers. For two out-of-facility individual differentiated service delivery (DSD) models, we assessed acceptability of antiretroviral therapy (ART) distribution through private pharmacies and reach of home delivery of ART through courier services during the COVID-19 pandemic in Botswana. METHODS: From 24 July to 24 August 2020, we conducted exit interviews with PLHIV receiving ART from 10 high-volume public facilities in Gaborone, and mapped and conducted an online survey with private pharmacies to assess willingness and capacity to dispense ART to PLHIV enrolled in the Botswana national ART program. We piloted ART home delivery from September 2020 to January 2021 in Gaborone and Kweneng East districts for PLHIV accessing ART at two Tebelopele Wellness Clinics. We used cascade analysis to measure the enrolment and eventual reach (percentage of those reached amongst those who are eligible) of ART home delivery. RESULTS: Sixty-one PLHIV and 42 private pharmacies participated. Of the PLHIV interviewed, 37 (61%) indicated willingness to access ART from private pharmacies and pay BWP50 (∼US$4) per refill for a maximum of two refills per year. All private pharmacies surveyed were willing to provide ART, and 26 (62%) would charge a dispensing fee (range = BWP50-100; ∼US$4-8) per refill. All pharmacies operated 12 h/day, 6 days/week and on public holidays. In the home delivery pilot, 650 PLHIV were due for refills, 69.5% (n = 452) of whom were eligible for home delivery. Of these, 361 were successfully offered home delivery and 303 enrolled (enrolment = 83.9%: female = 87.2%, male = 77.8%, p = 0.013). A total of 276 deliveries were made, a reach of 61%. CONCLUSIONS: Providing ART through private pharmacies and home delivery was acceptable in Botswana during COVID-19. Surveyed pharmacies were willing and able to dispense ART to PLHIV attending public sector facilities for free or for a nominal fee. Additionally, using courier services for ART home delivery is a novel and viable model in countries with a reliable courier service like Botswana and should be scaled up, particularly in urban areas.


Subject(s)
COVID-19 , HIV Infections , Pharmacies , Botswana , Female , HIV Infections/drug therapy , HIV Infections/epidemiology , Humans , Male , Pandemics , SARS-CoV-2
8.
J Int AIDS Soc ; 24 Suppl 6: e25813, 2021 10.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1487490

ABSTRACT

INTRODUCTION: Sisters with a Voice (Sisters), a programme providing community-led differentiated HIV prevention and treatment services, including condoms, HIV testing, pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) and antiretroviral therapy linkage for sex workers, reached over 26,000 female sex workers (FSW) across Zimbabwe in 2020. Zimbabwe's initial Covid "lockdown" in March 2020 and associated movement restrictions interrupted clinical service provision for 6 weeks, particularly in mobile clinics, triggering the adaptation of services for the Covid-19 context and a scale up of differentiated service delivery (DSD) models. PrEP service delivery decentralized with shifts from clinical settings towards community/home-based, peer-led PrEP services to expand and maintain access. We hypothesize that peer-led community-based provision of PrEP services influenced both demand and supply-side determinants of PrEP uptake. We observed the effect of these adaptations on PrEP uptake among FSW accessing services in Sisters in 2020. METHODS: New FSW PrEP initiations throughout 2020 were tracked by analysing routine Sisters programme data and comparing it with national PrEP initiation data for 2020. We mapped PrEP uptake among all negative FSW attending services in Sisters alongside Covid-19 adaptations and shifts in the operating environment throughout 2020: prior to lockdown (January-March 2020), during severe restrictions (April-June 2020), subsequent easing (July-September 2020) and during drug stockouts that followed (October-December 2020). RESULTS AND DISCUSSION: PrEP uptake in 2020 occurred at rates <25% (315 initiations or fewer) per month prior to the emergence of Covid-19. In response to Covid-19 restrictions, DSD models were scaled up in April 2020, including peer demand creation, community-based delivery, multi-month dispensing and the use of virtual platforms for appointment scheduling and post-PrEP initiation support. Beginning May 2020, PrEP uptake increased monthly, peaking at an initiation rate of 51% (n = 1360) in September 2020. Unexpected rise in demand coincided with national commodity shortages between October and December 2020, resulting in restriction of new initiations with sites prioritizing refills. CONCLUSIONS: Despite the impact of Covid-19 on the Sisters Programme and FSW mobility, DSD adaptations led to a large increase in PrEP initiations compared to pre-Covid levels demonstrating that a peer-led, community-based PrEP service delivery model is effective and can be adopted for long-term use.


Subject(s)
Anti-HIV Agents , COVID-19 , HIV Infections , Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis , Sex Workers , Anti-HIV Agents/therapeutic use , Communicable Disease Control , Female , HIV Infections/drug therapy , HIV Infections/prevention & control , Humans , SARS-CoV-2
9.
HIV Med ; 23(2): 169-177, 2022 02.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1462791

ABSTRACT

OBJECTIVES: The coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic has been associated with severe disruptions in health care services, and nonpharmacological measures such as social distancing also have an impact on access to screening tests and on the long-term care of patients with chronic conditions globally. We aimed to describe the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on HIV testing and treatment and to describe strategies employed to mitigate the impact of COVID-19 on HIV care. METHODS: In this retrospective cohort study, we used secondary data from the AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF) Global Quality Program from 44 countries in four continents (Asia, Latin America and the Caribbean, Europe and Africa), and compared information on HIV testing, percentage of positive results, number of in-person appointments, and number of new enrolments in HIV care from 1 January 2020 to 31 August 2020 with the equivalent period in 2019. RESULTS: Despite marked inter-country heterogeneities, we found that COVID-19 was associated with a significant reduction in HIV testing, an increase in the percentage of positive tests, a reduction in the number of in-person consultations and a reduction in the number of new enrolments in care, despite the implementation of several mitigation strategies. The impact of COVID-19 differed across continents and key populations. CONCLUSIONS: Our findings suggest that, in the years to come, health care services must be prepared to respond to the impact of COVID-19 on HIV testing and care. Providers and facilities should build on the lessons learned so far to further improve mitigation strategies and establish care priorities for both the pandemic and the post-pandemic periods.


Subject(s)
COVID-19 , HIV Infections , HIV Testing , Pandemics , Africa/epidemiology , Asia/epidemiology , COVID-19/epidemiology , Caribbean Region/epidemiology , Europe/epidemiology , HIV Infections/diagnosis , HIV Infections/therapy , HIV Testing/statistics & numerical data , Humans , Latin America/epidemiology , Retrospective Studies
10.
Braz J Infect Dis ; 25(5): 101617, 2021.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1377669

ABSTRACT

BACKGROUND: Mobility restrictions and overloaded health services during the COVID-19 pandemic compromised services dedicated to the prevention and care of HIV and other sexually transmitted infections (STI). In this study, we present client's responses to standardized questionnaires applied during the COVID-19 pandemic period as part of the strategy to measure impacts on social and sexual vulnerability, access to STI prevention services, and access to STI care. METHODS: The questionnaires included variables on sociodemographics, behavior, risk perception, prevention attitudes, barriers to service-based HIV rapid test, reasons for taking an HIV self-test, and access to health services for STI diagnosis and treatment. We explored demographic variables associated with income reduction, reduced access to HIV/STI testing/treatment and increased vulnerability to HIV/STI. RESULTS: 847 participants responded to the study questionnaire between May 2020 and January 2021. Most were young, cisgender male, and 63% self-reported as men who have sex with men. Income reductions were reported by 50%, with 30% reporting a decline over 50% of total income. An increase in heavy episodic drinking (>5 doses) was reported by 18%; 7% reported more sexual partners and 6% reported using condoms less often. Difficulties in obtaining HIV tests, tests for other STI and treatment for STI were reported by 5%, 6% and 6%, respectively. Lower schooling was significantly associated with income reduction (p = 0.004) and with reduced access to HIV/STI testing or STI treatment (p = 0.024); employment status was associated with income reduction (p < 0.001) and increased vulnerability to HIV/STI (p = 0.027). Having access to an expedite test result, avoiding physical attendance in health units during the pandemic, and undertaking the test with privacy with a trusted person were reported as motivators for HIV self-test. CONCLUSIONS: Our findings are relevant to promote service improvements tailored to subgroups more likely to struggle with detrimental effects during and after the COVID-19 pandemic.


Subject(s)
COVID-19 , HIV Infections , Sexual and Gender Minorities , Sexually Transmitted Diseases , Attitude , Delivery of Health Care , HIV Infections/epidemiology , HIV Infections/prevention & control , Homosexuality, Male , Humans , Male , Pandemics , SARS-CoV-2 , Sexual Behavior , Sexually Transmitted Diseases/epidemiology , Sexually Transmitted Diseases/prevention & control
12.
AIDS Behav ; 25(1): 68-72, 2021 Jan.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-724352

ABSTRACT

The objective of this study was to assess psychosocial effects of COVID-19 among adolescents living with HIV (ALHIV) in Kenya and to assess the feasibility of conducting behavioral surveys by phone. We adapted our protocol to administer telephone rather than in-person follow-up surveys and included questions about COVID-19. The majority of participants (99%) reported having heard of COVID-19; 23% reported no longer being able to go outside, 17% reported that they could no longer go to their regular clinic for medical care, and 3% reported that they could no longer get medication refills. PHQ-9 screening identified 9% (n = 45) with mild depression symptoms, and 1% (n = 3) with moderate-to-severe depression symptoms. Young adults 20-24 years old had more mild to severe depressive symptoms than the younger age groups (p < 0.001). Offering remote peer-support or mental health care, continuing to offer differentiated care services, and considering financial support will support the health and well-being of ALHIV.


Subject(s)
COVID-19/psychology , Depression/epidemiology , HIV Infections/drug therapy , HIV Infections/psychology , SARS-CoV-2 , Adolescent , Anti-HIV Agents/therapeutic use , Child , Depression/psychology , Female , HIV Infections/epidemiology , Humans , Kenya/epidemiology , Pandemics , Stress, Psychological/epidemiology , Young Adult
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