Women living with HIV, diabetes and/or hypertension multi-morbidity in Uganda: a qualitative exploration of experiences accessing an integrated care service

Marie Claire Annette Van Hout, Flavia Zalwango, Mathias Akugizibwe, Moreen Namulundu Chaka, Charlotte Bigland, Josephine Birungi, Shabbar Jaffar, Max Bachmann, Jamie Murdoch

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Purpose: Women experience a triple burden of ill-health spanning non-communicable diseases (NCDs), reproductive and maternal health conditions and human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) in sub-Saharan Africa. Whilst there is research on integrated service experiences of women living with HIV (WLHIV) and cancer, little is known regarding those of WLHIV, diabetes and/or hypertension when accessing integrated care. Our research responds to this gap.

Design/methodology/approach: The INTE-AFRICA project conducted a pragmatic parallel arm cluster randomised trial to scale up and evaluate “one-stop” integrated care clinics for HIV-infection, diabetes and hypertension at selected primary care centres in Uganda. A qualitative process evaluation explored and documented patient experiences of integrated care for HIV, diabetes and/or hypertension. In-depth interviews were conducted using a phenomenological approach with six WLHIV with diabetes and/or hypertension accessing a “one stop” clinic. Thematic analysis of narratives revealed five themes: lay health knowledge and alternative medicine, community stigma, experiences of integrated care, navigating personal challenges and health service constraints.

Findings: WLHIV described patient pathways navigating HIV and diabetes/hypertension, with caregiving responsibilities, poverty, travel time and cost and personal ill health impacting on their ability to adhere to multi-morbid integrated treatment. Health service barriers to optimal integrated care included unreliable drug supply for diabetes/hypertension and HIV linked stigma. Comprehensive integrated care is recommended to further consider gender sensitive aspects of care.

Originality/value: This study whilst small scale, provides a unique insight into the lived experience of WLHIV navigating care for HIV and diabetes and/or hypertension, and how a “one stop” integrated care clinic can support them (and their children) in their treatment journeys.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)86-99
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Integrated Care
Issue number1
Early online date2 Dec 2022
Publication statusPublished - 7 Feb 2023

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