Background Care and support for People living with HIV (PLHIV) is often limited to institutional settings with considerable time lag between diagnoses and access to care, and poor linkages with other social support services. The USAID supported Samastha project aimed to address the gaps through an innovative approach.
Method Drop-in centres (DIC) were set up within the PLHIV networks as a hub of decentralised care and support. They offered psychosocial, outpatient medical care, positive prevention and nutritional services. To increase accessibility to general medical care, outreach clinics were clubbed with support group meetings and held in local government hospitals. The linkages to treatment, testing, screening for TB and institutional care were strengthened through referral systems, including accompaniment by outreach workers and coordination meetings at district level. All outreach workers were trained on government sponsored social entitlements and schemes for PLHIV and methods of assessing and addressing these needs.
Results By the fourth year of the project, 45 009 PLHIVs (53% female) had availed services of which 52% received clinical care, 99% of clinical visits screened for TB and 4% of PLHIV were treated for TB. 51% received positive prevention services, including treatment adherence counselling while 39% received treatment for minor OI and general ailments. 85% are registered at ART center and 44% are on ART. 91% were provided with psychosocial support, 81% received nutritional support and 51% attended support group meetings. Nutrition and livelihood support were leveraged from other sources.
Lessons Learned The Drop-in centre run by people living with HIV makes a continuum of care possible. In resource poor settings, DICs helps in early enrolment of PLHIVs into care, thereby resulting in timely initiation of treatment for HIV and TB and a qualitative improvement in the life of a PLHIV.
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