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“Every drug goes to treat its own disease…” - A qualitative study of perceptions and experiences of taking anti-retrovirals concomitantly with anti-malarials among those affected by HIV and malaria in Tanzania

Journal

Malaria Journal

Category: Publications

Author: Peter E Mangesho, Joanna Reynolds, Martha Lemnge, Lasse S Vestergaard, Clare IR Chandler

Published Date: 13 December 2014

Summary

Background

Little is known about how people living with human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) experience malaria and the concomitant use of anti-malarial treatments with anti-retrovirals (ARVs). An understanding of how patients make sense of these experiences is important to consider in planning and supporting the clinical management and treatment for co-infected individuals.

Methods

A qualitative study was conducted in Tanzania alongside a clinical trial of concomitant treatment for HIV and malaria co-infection. Focus group discussions were held with people receiving treatment for HIV and/or malaria, and in-depth interviews with health workers responsible for HIV care and members of the clinical trial team. Data were analysed inductively to identify themes and develop theoretical narratives.

Results

Results suggest that people living with HIV perceived malaria to be more harmful to them due to their compromised immune status but saw the disease as unavoidable. For those enrolled in the clinical controlled study, taking anti-malarials together with ARVs was largely seen as unproblematic, with health workers’ advice and endorsement of concomitant drug taking influential in reported adherence. However, perceptions of drug strength appeared to compel some people not enrolled in the clinical study to take the drugs at separate times to avoid anticipated harm to the body.

Conclusions

Management of HIV and malaria concurrently often requires individuals to cross the domains of different disease programmes. In the context of a trial concerned with both diseases, patients experienced the support of clinicians in guiding and reassuring them about when and how to take drugs concomitantly. This points towards the need to continue to strive for integrated care for patients with HIV.

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