Supporting People Living with HIV in Africa during the COVID Pandemic

Thabani Nyoni, Mastercard Foundation Scholar Alum, shares insights on COVID-19-Compliant Strategies for PLWA in Africa

UC Berkeley Mastercard Foundation Scholar and MSW'16 Alum, Thabani Nyoni, and his colleague, Moses Okumu, have the pleasure of sharing their notes from the field on Coronavirus (COVID-19) compliant antiretroviral (ART) adherence strategies in an article published in the journal, AIDS and Behavior. Thabani writes, "We first outline four ways in which COVID-19 public health responses are stressful to people living with HIV (PLWH) and disrupt their access and adherence to ART. Then, drawing on lessons from successful HIV treatment adherence interventions, we detail several ways to harmonize these seemingly dissonant health care efforts in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA). As COVID-19 continues to reshape social environments and policy landscapes, we recommend that SSA countries invest in community-based ART treatment supporter services and digital interventions to increase PLWH’s access to medication, support, and nutrition. We believe these services would be most effective when deployed in concert. For instance, patient-nominated treatment supporters can assist with medication pickup, delivery, and reminders, while health worker-nominated treatment supporters send text messages about health check-ups and tips for self-care via mobile phones. Non-profit and government organizations supporting PLWHs can leverage mobile money platforms to transfer cash that patient-nominated treatment supporters can use to buy nutritious food for PLWHs. Collectively, these strategies offer a cost-effective and COVID-19-compliant program for promoting the health and ART adherence of PLWHs in SSA even after the present coronavirus pandemic has passed."

Thabani is now fourth-year Social Work Ph.D. student at the Brown School, Washington University in St. Louis.

Here is the citation and link to the full article:
Nyoni, T., Okumu, M. COVID-19-Compliant Strategies for Supporting Treatment Adherence Among People Living with HIV in Sub-Saharan Africa. AIDS Behav (2020).