Perceptions of quality of life among Ugandan patients living with HIV: a qualitative study
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Background: Ugandans have endured the HIV epidemic for three decades. Now, with the availability of antiretroviral therapy (ART) and early diagnosis, those living with HIV can live longer and can enjoy the same life expectancy as the rest of the Ugandan population. This emerging trend necessitates the assessment of quality of life, alongside other patient outcomes, of those undergoing therapy, alongside other patient outcomes. While major strides have been made in developing measures of quality of life in the developed world, there remains a paucity of evidence from resource-limited settings. This challenge is further complicated by the contentious definition of quality of life, which is highly subjective and varies between individuals. In this paper, we aim to identify the determinants of quality of life for people living with HIV in a Ugandan context to contribute to the chronic care model for persons living with HIV/AIDS. Methods: Twenty HIV-positive participants took part in in-depth interviews at an urban clinic, with follow-ups at three and six months. Ten patients were on ART and ten not on ART. All interviews were transcribed and translated for analysis. Data were analysed manually using the framework approach to content analysis. Results: Individuals reported on four aspects of quality of life: liveability of the environment, utility of life, life ability of a person and appreciation of life. Respondents described multiple expectations and expressed hope for their future. However, many still suffered from stigma, fears of disclosure and poverty, which negatively affected their quality of life. Conclusions: Individuals living with HIV receiving treatment or in care experienced an improved quality of life in this setting, although the situation for many remains precarious.