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Patients and Providers Should Agree on Helpful Strategies for HIV Care

In order to overcome the barriers to HIV care, it is important for both patients and health care professionals to mutually agree that a particular strategy is useful.

As health officials across the globe are working to end the HIV epidemic once and for all, it is critical to identify barriers that are inhibiting access and adherence to HIV care.

Several previous studies have examined barriers to HIV care continuum and have promoted the implementation of various intervention strategies for both patients and their care providers. However, in order to overcome these barriers, it is important for both patients and health care professionals to mutually agree that a particular strategy is useful.

Therefore, a team of investigators conducted a survey comparing patients’ and health care professionals’ perceptions of strategies for promoting prevention, treatment adherence, and retention in care. The findings of the survey study were presented in a poster at IDWeek 2019.

The surveys listed 12 different strategies and asked patients and professionals to rate the extent to which each strategy would be helpful (scale: 1 = very unhelpful to 5 = very helpful). The team administered surveys to patients and health care professionals in 16 community HIV clinics prior to a 1.5-hour patient education program about HIV.

The investigators used X2 or Fisher’s exact tests to assess between-group differences in the frequency of pooled ratings of 4 (helpful) and 5 (very helpful).

The surveys were completed by 279 patients, 42% of whom were female. The patients ranged in age from 17 to 77 years with a median age of 50 years. Demographic information indicates that 72% of respondents were African American, 24% Caucasian, 4% other. Of the patients, 69% were living with HIV.

In total, 60 health care professionals responded to the survey; 77% of whom were female. The professionals had an average of 11 years in practice, with experience ranging from 0-11 years. Among the respondents, 40% were health educators/counselors, 34% were nurse practitioners, 20% were social workers, and 6% were physicians.

The results report overall alignment between the 2 groups for perceptions of taking pre-exposure prophylaxis to prevent HIV, using a smartphone app for medication reminders, and making it easier to get clinic appointments including after-hours.

However, more discordant perceptions were observed regarding the improvement of relationship with clinic staff as a strategy for retention in case.

According to the investigators, the survey results may pinpoint interventions that are helpful by both patients and HCPs to promote HIV prevention, treatment adherence, and retention in care.

“Effective interventions must address any discordance between patients and health care professionals in the usefulness of selected strategies,” the authors conclude.

The poster, Do Patients and Healthcare Professionals See Eye-to-Eye on the Usefulness of Strategies for Promoting HIV Care?, was presented in a poster session on Thursday, October 3, 2019, at IDWeek 2019 in Washington DC.