HIVCore is addressing critical service-delivery issues in HIV and AIDS treatment, care, and support and PMTCT programs.
HIV treatment, care and support, and prevention of mother-to-child transmission (PMTCT) programs are effective interventions that can be implemented on a large scale. However, many patients still do not receive the recommended standard of care. Targeted operations research (OR) and program evaluation can play a significant role in identifying promising practices to improve service delivery, expand programs to reach more clients on a broader geographic scope, enhance the quality of care provided, and improve health status and health systems in developing countries.
HIVCore uses operations research and program evaluation to assess and strengthen the efficiency and effectiveness of HIV programs by conducting nearly 20 studies in more than 10 countries.
Key activities include an assessment of the factors affecting access to and use of HIV services by persons with disabilities in Ghana, Uganda, and Zambia. Preliminary results revealed that persons with disabilities have specific vulnerabilities that may increase their risk of HIV infection, including high levels of sexual abuse and community perceptions that having sex with persons with disabilities can cure HIV. Study participants in all three countries identified significant barriers to HIV prevention and care services, including a lack of confidentiality, stigma toward persons with disabilities, and inaccessible HIV informational materials. Service providers also expressed the opinion that they do not have the skills to provide services for this population.
The findings from this assessment are informing country program managers, health providers, and donors on the significant gaps in HIV and disability programs and policies that need to be addressed in order to respect the human rights of persons with disabilities and meet HIV program goals. Council researchers are making recommendations for ensuring that persons with disabilities have access to appropriate HIV and sexual and reproductive health services. The Council is also exploring opportunities to expand this research to several other countries in sub-Saharan Africa.
Other key activities include:
- Identifying reasons for delays and loss to follow-up within PMTCT programs and potential interventions to improve program effectiveness and design and implement an intervention study in Côte d’Ivoire.
- Evaluating whether SMS reminders and notifications to mothers increase the proportion of HIV-exposed infants tested for HIV.
- Developing an app for health providers and HIV program managers tool to use to enhance prevention, care, support, and treatment services and linkages for those living with HIV—from HIV diagnosis through ART enrollment and long term retention—based on their unique needs.
- Determining whether it is operationally feasible to implement universal tuberculosis testing in a defined group of people living with HIV who are likely to be at higher risk for active tuberculosis.
A complete list of HIVCore’s activities can be found on HIVCore’s external website.
Evidence from project activities will inform national HIV strategic planning, budgeting, and program implementation.