Retaining HIV patients in clinical care is a critical component of the HIV care continuum, impacting not only patients’ virologic suppression, but their overall health and wellbeing. Understanding reasons for patient drop-out is therefore important to improve HIV outcomes and reduce transmission.
This study used qualitative in-depth interviews with patients who dropped out of HIV care (n = 16) from the Atlanta Veterans Affairs Medical Center, to explore their reasons for drop-out and how they negotiate barriers to return to care.
Results show three interlinked “pathways” leading to patient drop-out —wellness, illness, and medication pathways. These pathways encompass both barriers to retention and triggers to resume clinic visits, with patients following different pathways at different times in their lives. Perhaps the strongest deterrent to continuing clinic visits was participants’ self-perception of wellness, which often outweighed clinical indicators of wellness. These pathways suggest that multiple approaches are needed to improve treatment retention, including reducing clinic-based barriers, addressing basic needs that are barriers to clinic visits, and empowering patients to view clinic visits as a facilitator to maintaining their overall health rather than only a reaction to illness.
Population of focus: veterans
Links to resource:
- Read the research article Pathways to Retention in HIV Care Among U.S. Veterans