Understanding how community antiretroviral delivery influences engagement in HIV care: A qualitative assessment of the Centralised Chronic Medication Dispensing and Distribution programme in South Africa
Dorward J., Msimango L., Gibbs A., Shozi H., Tonkin-Crine S., Hayward G., Butler CC., Ngobese H., Drain PK., Garrett N.
Introduction Providing antiretroviral therapy (ART) for millions of people living with HIV requires efficient, client-centred models of differentiated ART delivery. In South Africa, the Centralised Chronic Medication Dispensing and Distribution (CCMDD) programme allows over 1 million people to collect chronic medication, including ART, from community pick-up points. We aimed to explore how CCMDD influences engagement in HIV care. Methods We performed in-depth interviews and focus group discussions with clients receiving ART and healthcare workers in Durban, South Africa. We analysed transcripts using deductive thematic analysis, with a framework informed by theories of practice', which highlights the materialities, competencies, meanings and other life practices that underpin clients' engagement in HIV care. Results Between March 2018 to August 2018 we undertook 25 interviews and four focus groups with a total of 55 clients, and interviewed eight healthcare workers. The material challenges of standard clinic-based ART provision included long waiting times, poor confidentiality and restricted opening hours, which discouraged clients from engagement. In contrast, CCMDD allowed quicker and more convenient ART collection in the community. This required the development of new competencies around accessing care, and helped change the meanings associated with HIV, by normalising treatment collection. CCMDD was seen as a reward by clients for taking ART well, and helped reduce disruption to other life practices such as employment. At private pharmacies, some clients reported receiving inferior care compared with paying customers, and some worried about inadvertently revealing their HIV status. Clients and healthcare workers had to negotiate problems with CCMDD implementation, including some pharmacies reaching capacity or only allowing ART collection at restricted times. Conclusions In South Africa, CCMDD overcame material barriers to attending clinics, changed the meanings associated with collecting ART and was less disruptive to other social practices in clients' lives. Expansion of community-based ART delivery programmes may help to facilitate engagement in HIV care. Trial registration number STREAM study clinical trial registration: NCT03066128, registered February 2017.