Journal Article

Integrated psychosocial, economic strengthening, and clinical service-delivery to improve health and resilience of adolescents living with HIV and their caregivers: Findings from a prospective cohort study in Zambia

Background
Children and youth are profoundly impacted groups in Zambia’s HIV epidemic. To evaluate delivery of integrated psychosocial, economic strengthening, and clinical services to HIV-affected households through the Zambia Family (ZAMFAM) Project, a prospective cohort study compared socio-economic, psychosocial, and health outcomes among ZAMFAM beneficiaries to non-beneficiaries.

Methods
In July–October 2017, 544 adolescents living with HIV (ALHIV) aged 5–17 years and their adult caregivers were recruited from Central (ZAMFAM implementation sites) and Eastern (non-intervention sites) Provinces. Structured interviews at baseline and one-year follow-up assessed household characteristics, socio-economic wellbeing, and health service utilization. Poisson regression with generalized estimating equations measured one-year changes in key health and socio-economic indicators, comparing ZAMFAM beneficiaries to non-beneficiaries.

Results
Overall, 494 households completed two rounds of assessment (retention rate: 91%) Among ALHIV, improvements in current antiretroviral therapy use over time (Adjusted Prevalence Rate Ratio [aPRR] = 1.06, 95% Confidence Interval [95% CI]: 1.01–1.11) and reductions in non-household labor (aPRR = 0.44, 95% CI: 0.20–0.99) were significantly larger among ZAMFAM beneficiaries than non-beneficiaries. For caregivers, receiving ZAMFAM services was associated with significant reductions in HIV-related stigma (aPRR = 0.49, 95% CI: 0.28–0.88) and perceived negative community attitudes towards HIV (aPRR = 0.77, 95% CI: 0.62–0.96). Improvements in caregiver capacity to pay for unexpected (aPRR = 1.54, 95% CI: 1.17–2.04) and food-related expenses (aPRR = 1.48, 95% CI: 1.16–1.90), as well as shared decision-making authority in household spending (aPRR = 1.41, 95% CI: 1.04–1.93) and self-reported good or very good health status (aPRR = 1.46, 95% CI: 1.14–1.87), were also significantly larger among ZAMFAM beneficiaries.

Conclusions
Significant improvements in caregivers’ financial capacity were observed among households receiving ZAMFAM services, with few changes in health or wellbeing among ALHIV. Integrated service-delivery approaches like ZAMFAM may yield observable socio-economic improvements in the short-term. Strengthening community-based delivery of psychosocial and health support to ALHIV is encouraged.