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Quality of Life of HIV Patients in a Rural Area of Western Uganda: Impact of a Community-Based Antiretroviral Treatment Program

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Objective: Community-based antiretroviral treatment (CBART) programs should aim to achieve positive quality of life outcomes. The purpose of this study was to investigate changes in the health related quality of life (HRQOL) outcomes of patients in a CBART program supported by community volunteers in one sub-county in western Uganda located 50 km from the nearest urban centre.

Methods: We administered a translated version of the MOS-HIV survey and collected clinical data at baseline and after one year from 130 patients. Inclusion criteria included residency in the sub-county, eighteen years of age or, treatmentnaive, eligible for ART based on CD4 cell count <200 cells/mm3 or WHO clinical stage 3 or 4, and willing to accept daily treatment support by family/friends and to be visited by a community volunteer weekly. We assessed changes in physical health (PHS) and mental health (MHS) summary scores and examined associations between patient characteristics and changes in HRQOL.

Results: After one year, we observed significant increases in mean PHS (42.7 to 50.1; p<0.01) and MHS (43.5 to 49.5; p<0.01) scores. Lower age (p<0.01) and lower baseline PHS scores (p<0.01) were associated with increases in PHS scores and lower age (p=0.03) and lower baseline MHS scores (p<0.01) were associated with increases in MHS scores. Fifteen patients (12%) had reductions in their HRQOL after one year which were not associated with patient or clinical characteristics, including virological suppression.

Conclusions: The observed improvements in HRQOL demonstrate that positive treatment outcomes can be achieved in CBART programs in rural Uganda. However, some patients appear to experience declines in their overall well-being, despite achieving virological suppression. HRQOL surveys can be useful in identifying these patients, who may require additional attention and support to achieve the full benefits of ART.
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Keywords: Antiretroviral therapy; HIV/AIDS; Uganda; community based treatment; quality of Life; rural health services

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: July 1, 2010

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  • Current HIV Research aims to cover all the latest and outstanding developments of HIV research. We invite comprehensive review articles and novel, pioneering work in the basic and clinical fields on all areas of HIV research, including virus replication and gene expression, HIV assembly, virus-cell interaction, viral pathogenesis, epidemiology and transmission, anti-retroviral therapy and adherence, drug discovery, the latest developments in HIV/AIDS vaccines and animal models, mechanisms and interactions with AIDS related diseases, social and public health issues related to HIV disease, and prevention of viral infection. Each issue of the journal contains a series of timely in-depth reviews and original research written by leaders in the field covering a range of current topics on HIV research. Periodically, the journal will invite guest editors to devote an issue on a particular area of HIV research of great interest that increases our understanding of the virus and its complex interaction with the host.
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