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Handouts boost adherence to ARV drugs - study

By Cecilia Okoth

Added 20th April 2018 09:57 AM

Incentives such as umbrellas and tea mugs according to research not only improve drug adherence among patients, but also saves them from treatment options like second-line regimens that are known to be limited.

Handouts boost adherence to ARV drugs - study

Incentives such as umbrellas and tea mugs according to research not only improve drug adherence among patients, but also saves them from treatment options like second-line regimens that are known to be limited.

PIC: Director clinical services Ministry of Health addressing delegates the launching of study research on Behavioral Economic Incentives to support HIV Treatment adherence in sub-Saharan Africa. This was at MildMay Hospital Entebbe Road in Wakiso district on April 18, 2018. (Credit: Ramadhan Abbey)

HEALTH


KAMPALA - A new approach to increase adherence of antiretroviral treatment among people living with HIV/AIDS has shown that rewarding them with incentives enhances their drug intake that subsequently suppresses their viral load.

Incentives such as umbrellas and tea mugs according to research not only improve drug adherence among patients, but also saves them from treatment options like second-line regimens that are known to be limited.

On Wednesday, Mildmay Uganda launched a research study dubbed, Behavioural Economics Incentives to Support HIV Treatment Adherence in sub-Saharan Africa (BEST).

The study, according to Harriet Chemusto, an epidemiologist at Mildmay, is based on findings of a rewarding adherence programme that demonstrated that the use of incentives for patients who have been swallowing drugs for long works.

"We want to reward people whose viral load has been suppressed and to encourage them to continue taking their drugs. Whereas many patients get tired of taking drugs, giving them small gifts such as umbrellas and tea bags as a token of appreciation helps them realise how adherence is good," Chemusto said.

Uganda is still grappling with a high burden of HIV. It is estimated that currently over 1.3 million people are living with HIV in Uganda.

Whereas the country is on track in achieving the global 90-90-90 targets and has been primed by the World Health Organisation as one of the countries in sub-Saharan Africa that has championed elimination of mother-to-child transmission of HIV, a lot has to be done to bring down the disease prevalence in the general population.

The Uganda Population-based HIV Impact Assessment (UPHIA 2016) preliminary findings shows that the prevalence of HIV is at 6% and remains higher in women at 7.5% compared to men at 4.3%.

Dr Yvonne Karamagi, the director medical services at Mildmay Uganda, said the BEST programme will monitor patients in three ways, including their standard of care, measuring a patient's viral load and through the use of Medical Electronic Monitoring devices (MEMs cup).

"Whereas the standard of care includes counselling of patient and measuring their viral load, the MEMs cup containing a tracking device is attached to a patient's medicine bottle that will monitor patient's drug intake," she said.

With good adherence, Karamagi said one is able to suppress the virus in their body within three months.

Representing the state minister for health, Sarah Opendi, Dr Charles Olaro the director clinical services at the health ministry said the ministry registered an increased number of people tested, linked and enrolled on ART.

Olaro said since the roll out of the consolidated HIV prevention, care and treatment guidelines, over one million people living with HIV are on ART and of these 60% have achieved viral load suppression.

Commending Mildmay for the new study, Olaro said the Government, working with partners has mounted a multi-sectoral response premised on the combination prevention approach embracing structural, behavioural and biomedical interventions.


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