Community awareness and attitudes towards use of antiretroviral drugs in the treatment of HIV/AIDS in Bushenyi District
Kenyonga, Grace Mary
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The effects of HIV/AIDS on the population are devastating. HIV/AIDS deprives skilled persons from using their skills as well as causing great budget expenditures in treating the infected. The use of antiretroviral drugs has proved successful in helping people living with HIV delay the development of AIDS. People living with HIV can live normal and productive life as long as HIV is managed not to develop into AIDS. The Ugandan government’s policy of introducing free antiretroviral drugs is one of the ways of reducing the effects of the scourge. The success of this programme only depends on the community awareness and attitudes towards the use of antiretroviral drugs. The study intended to establish community awareness and attitudes towards the use of antiretroviral drugs in the treatment of HIV/AIDS. The study also wanted to establish the factors that influence the community’s level of awareness and attitudes on ARVs and finally to identify necessary interventions to enhance community awareness and attitudes towards the use of antiretroviral drugs. The study was carried out in Bushenyi district. Kitagata Sub county represented the rural population and Bushenyi town council represented the urban population. A total of 100 respondents were involved in the survey. Key informant interviews were also conducted with health facility officials in charge of HIV/AIDS related services. Focus group discussions were held with selected community members in the study area. Study findings indicated that 75% of the respondents were aware that Antiretroviral drugs (ARVs) exist and are used in the treatment of HIV/AIDS. Findings further revealed that though majority of the population is aware that ARVs exist, only a few (24%) knew the category of HIV positive people who are supposed to take ARVs and only 36% were aware that ARVs are to be provided free of charge. The study further established that people have both negative and positive attitudes towards the use ARVs. Despite the differences in attitudes, 96% of the respondents were willing to use ARVs if they tested positive and if ARVs are provided free of charge. Community awareness and attitudes on ARVs are influenced by individual social demographic characteristics, availability of information and health care facilities. For the success of antiretroviral therapy (ART), this study recommends community sensitization to create awareness and positive attitudes towards the use of ARVs. This should be done through village seminars and mass media especially through radio programmes. Findings of this study are of great importance in the implementation of free ART in Uganda.