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Barriers and facilitating factors to the uptake of antiretroviral drugs for prevention of mother-to-child transmission of HIV in sub-Saharan Africa: a systematic review

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      Abstract

      ObjectivesTo investigate and synthesize reasons for low access, initiation and adherence to antiretroviral drugs by mothers and exposed babies for prevention of mother-to-child transmission (PMTCT) of HIV in sub-Saharan Africa.MethodsA systematic literature review was conducted. Four databases were searched (Medline, Embase, Global Health and Web of Science) for studies conducted in sub-Saharan Africa from January 2000 to September 2012. Quantitative and qualitative studies were included that met pre-defined criteria. Antiretroviral (ARV) prophylaxis (maternal/infant) and combination antiretroviral therapy (ART) usage/registration at HIV care and treatment during pregnancy were included as outcomes.ResultsOf 574 references identified, 40 met the inclusion criteria. Four references were added after searching reference lists of included articles. Twenty studies were quantitative, 16 were qualitative and eight were mixed methods. Forty-one studies were conducted in Southern and East Africa, two in West Africa, none in Central Africa and one was multi-regional. The majority (n=25) were conducted before combination ART for PMTCT was emphasized in 2006. At the individual-level, poor knowledge of HIV/ART/vertical transmission, lower maternal educational level and psychological issues following HIV diagnosis were the key barriers identified. Stigma and fear of status disclosure to partners, family or community members (community-level factors) were the most frequently cited barriers overall and across time. The extent of partner/community support was another major factor impeding or facilitating the uptake of PMTCT ARVs, while cultural traditions including preferences for traditional healers and birth attendants were also common. Key health-systems issues included poor staff-client interactions, staff shortages, service accessibility and non-facility deliveries.ConclusionsLong-standing health-systems issues (such as staffing and service accessibility) and community-level factors (particularly stigma, fear of disclosure and lack of partner support) have not changed over time and continue to plague PMTCT programmes more than 10 years after their introduction. The potential of PMTCT programmes to virtually eliminate vertical transmission of HIV will remain elusive unless these barriers are tackled. The prominence of community-level factors in this review points to the importance of community-driven approaches to improve uptake of PMTCT interventions, although packages of solutions addressing barriers at different levels will be important.

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      Methods for the thematic synthesis of qualitative research in systematic reviews

      Background There is a growing recognition of the value of synthesising qualitative research in the evidence base in order to facilitate effective and appropriate health care. In response to this, methods for undertaking these syntheses are currently being developed. Thematic analysis is a method that is often used to analyse data in primary qualitative research. This paper reports on the use of this type of analysis in systematic reviews to bring together and integrate the findings of multiple qualitative studies. Methods We describe thematic synthesis, outline several steps for its conduct and illustrate the process and outcome of this approach using a completed review of health promotion research. Thematic synthesis has three stages: the coding of text 'line-by-line'; the development of 'descriptive themes'; and the generation of 'analytical themes'. While the development of descriptive themes remains 'close' to the primary studies, the analytical themes represent a stage of interpretation whereby the reviewers 'go beyond' the primary studies and generate new interpretive constructs, explanations or hypotheses. The use of computer software can facilitate this method of synthesis; detailed guidance is given on how this can be achieved. Results We used thematic synthesis to combine the studies of children's views and identified key themes to explore in the intervention studies. Most interventions were based in school and often combined learning about health benefits with 'hands-on' experience. The studies of children's views suggested that fruit and vegetables should be treated in different ways, and that messages should not focus on health warnings. Interventions that were in line with these suggestions tended to be more effective. Thematic synthesis enabled us to stay 'close' to the results of the primary studies, synthesising them in a transparent way, and facilitating the explicit production of new concepts and hypotheses. Conclusion We compare thematic synthesis to other methods for the synthesis of qualitative research, discussing issues of context and rigour. Thematic synthesis is presented as a tried and tested method that preserves an explicit and transparent link between conclusions and the text of primary studies; as such it preserves principles that have traditionally been important to systematic reviewing.
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        Mobile phone technologies improve adherence to antiretroviral treatment in a resource-limited setting: a randomized controlled trial of text message reminders.

        There is limited evidence on whether growing mobile phone availability in sub-Saharan Africa can be used to promote high adherence to antiretroviral therapy (ART). This study tested the efficacy of short message service (SMS) reminders on adherence to ART among patients attending a rural clinic in Kenya. A randomized controlled trial of four SMS reminder interventions with 48 weeks of follow-up. Four hundred and thirty-one adult patients who had initiated ART within 3 months were enrolled and randomly assigned to a control group or one of the four intervention groups. Participants in the intervention groups received SMS reminders that were either short or long and sent at a daily or weekly frequency. Adherence was measured using the medication event monitoring system. The primary outcome was whether adherence exceeded 90% during each 12-week period of analysis and the 48-week study period. The secondary outcome was whether there were treatment interruptions lasting at least 48 h. In intention-to-treat analysis, 53% of participants receiving weekly SMS reminders achieved adherence of at least 90% during the 48 weeks of the study, compared with 40% of participants in the control group (P = 0.03). Participants in groups receiving weekly reminders were also significantly less likely to experience treatment interruptions exceeding 48 h during the 48-week follow-up period than participants in the control group (81 vs. 90%, P = 0.03). These results suggest that SMS reminders may be an important tool to achieve optimal treatment response in resource-limited settings.
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          The Ecology of Human Development: Experiments by Nature and Design

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            Author and article information

            Affiliations
            [1 ]Department of Population Health, Faculty of Epidemiology and Population Health, London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, London, United Kingdom
            [2 ]International HIV AIDS Alliance, Hove, United Kingdom
            [3 ]Division of Health Research, Lancaster University, Bailrigg, United Kingdom
            Author notes
            [§ ] Corresponding author: Annabelle Gourlay, Department of Population Health, Faculty of Epidemiology and Population Health, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, Keppel Street, London WC1E 7HT, UK. Tel: +44 (0) 20 7636 8636. ( annabelle.gourlay@ 123456lshtm.ac.uk )
            Journal
            J Int AIDS Soc
            J Int AIDS Soc
            JIAS
            Journal of the International AIDS Society
            International AIDS Society
            1758-2652
            19 July 2013
            2013
            : 16
            : 1
            23870277
            3717402
            18588
            10.7448/IAS.16.1.18588
            © 2013 Gourlay A et al; licensee International AIDS Society

            This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

            Categories
            Review Article

            Infectious disease & Microbiology

            africa, hiv, vertical transmission, prevention, barriers, review

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