"They don't like us….": Barriers to antiretroviral and opioid substitution therapy among homeless HIV positive people who inject drugs in Delhi: A mixed method study.
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AbstractBackground Provision of Anti-Retroviral Therapy (ART) and Opioid Substitution Therapy (OST) are important components of the targeted intervention (TI) programme for people who inject drugs (PWID). Homeless HIV positive PWIDs in Delhi is a key population experiencing gaps in uptake of these services, especially the ART uptake which is reportedly far from 90%, UNAIDS’ 90-90-90 target to end the AIDS epidemic. Objective To assess the gaps and barriers in accessing the ART and OST services uptake among HIV positive homeless PWID in Delhi and to explore experiences and perspectives of the PWIDs and service providers. Methodology We used a convergent parallel mixed methods design which included a cross-sectional quantitative survey and a qualitative study. Two hundred thirty five homeless HIV positive PWID were interviewed and in-depth interviews were conducted with five PWIDs and nine health providers. Results While only 12% of PWIDs were on ART, 80% were availing OST services. The top individual, health system related and structural barriers for ART service access were insufficient and incorrect knowledge (63%), long waiting time (86%) and lack of family support (44%) respectively. Inconvenient timings, stringent registration requirements and negative attitude of health providers were expressed as major barriers of accessing ART services during the interviews while these were not a concern in OST services. Homelessness, poverty, stigma were common barriers for both services. Integrated, ‘single window’ service and provision of additional support like nutrition and shelter were suggested as measures to improve access by both health providers and the PWIDs themselves. Conclusion There is an urgent need for structural and health systems changes to improve access to ART and OST services. These include integrated service delivery, flexibility in timing of the centers, accelerated ART initiation, simplification of bureaucratic procedures, nutritional and social support to all homeless HIV positive PWIDs.
PublisherPublic Library of Sciences