Background People with disabilities are less likely to access antiretroviral therapy (ART) services in health centre facilities and communities, which are often not sensitive to their special needs. This study explored stigma and discrimination, perceptions and local understandings of ART and HIV testing.
Methods Purposive sampling was applied in selection of participants from 3 districts namely, Mazabuka, Kapiri Mponshi and Lusaka. The selection took into consideration the need to reflect geographical, religious, social diversities so that lessons drawn there from are more likely to be applied across Zambia and the region. It was carried out in 15 health facilities, 15 support groups and 4 referral government hospitals. 120 respondents with different degrees of disabilities and 34 able bodied medical personnel were interviewed for this data collection.
Results Only 60% of people with disabilities interviewed in the study reported that they were not satisfied with ART and HIV testing services they received. The assessment found the gap in access to ART services for people with disabilities to be due to stigma, long distance to health facilities and lack of disability guidelines. 50% of the respondents said that ART services are not user friendly for people with disabilities, this was equally supported by 60% of the health care providers interviewed.
Conclusion In order to improve access to ART services for people with disabilities, there is need for government to develop guidelines on the management of people with disabilities and restructure data collection tools in order to capture and disaggregate data for people with disabilities accessing ART and HIV testing services.
Disclosure of interest statement This study was entirely funded by Zambia Governance Foundation and not any other partners of TALC.
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