Original Research

Integrating HIV care and treatment into primary healthcare: Are clinics equipped?

Talitha Crowley, Ethelwynn L. Stellenberg
African Journal of Primary Health Care & Family Medicine | Vol 6, No 1 | a616 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/phcfm.v6i1.616 | © 2014 Talitha Crowley, Ethelwynn L. Stellenberg | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 04 November 2013 | Published: 28 August 2014

About the author(s)

Talitha Crowley, Division of Nursing, Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences, Stellenbosch University, South Africa
Ethelwynn L. Stellenberg, Division of Nursing, Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences, Stellenbosch University, South Africa


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Abstract

Background: The demand for HIV care and treatment services is increasing rapidly and strategies to sustain long-term care should be employed. The decentralisation and integration of HIV care and treatment services into primary healthcare (PHC) is vitally important in order to ensure optimal access to life-saving antiretroviral therapy and ongoing chronic care. Conversely, the PHC system is fraught with the current burden of disease.

Setting: The study was conducted in PHC clinics in the uMgungundlovu district, Kwa-Zulu Natal.

Aim: The objectives of the study were to assess whether PHC clinics were equipped to deliver integrated HIV services and to evaluate the availability of resources as well as support systems for HIV care and treatment in PHC clinics.

Methods: A quantitative, cross-sectional descriptive study was undertaken in 20 randomly-selected, eligible clinics in the uMgungundlovu district, KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa. An evaluation instrument was completed through observations and review of the clinic data records. Criteria were based on the World Health Organization’s guide to indicators for antiretroviral programmes as well as South African HIV standards for PHC facilities.

Results: None of the clinics were equipped adequately. Clinics with a higher patient load had poorer scores, whilst clinics providing antiretroviral therapy were better equipped in terms of human resources and infrastructure.

Conclusion: HIV services are an essential part of primary healthcare and clinics need to be equipped adequately in order to render this service. It is unlikely that the over-burdened health system would be able to cope with an increased number of patients on antiretroviral therapy in the long term, whilst maintaining quality of services, without support being given to PHC clinics.


Keywords

Primary health care; HIV care and treatment services; integration

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Crossref Citations

1. Challenges of primary healthcare nurses regarding the integration of HIV and AIDS services into primary healthcare in Vhembe district of Limpopo province, South Africa
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