Tremendous efforts and resources have been expended by the global community to ensure that antiretroviral therapy (ART) is available and accessible to all that need it. Despite these, less than a half of HIV-infected patients requiring ART in sub-Saharan Africa are receiving it. Some of the most significant barriers to attaining universal access to ART in this region include large distances that patients have to travel to clinic, time spent in accessing care and a significant shortage of human resources. In order to address these challenges the WHO advocates alternative care models especially those that incorporate task-shifting to lower cadre health care workers and lay persons. Unfortunately, few such alternative care models have been identified and very little data exist on their long-term outcomes. We propose to develop and study an alternative care model that is established on the platform of a HIV-infected peer-group (ART Co-op) and facilitated by community health workers (CHWs). This model of care is intended to decentralize ART services and bring them closer to the patients. Specifically, we would like to: 1. Develop an acceptable model for extending HIV care and treatment into the community 2. Develop a sustainable model for extending HIV care and treatment into the community 3. Perform a pilot study comparing the outcomes of patients enrolled in the ART Co-ops program to those receiving standard of care 4. Determine the cost savings and cost effectiveness of ART Co-ops Our group is uniquely qualified to carry out this work given our access to a large HIV- treatment cohort (United States Agency for International Development-Academic Model Providing Access To Healthcare [USAID-AMPATH]) Partnership which has enrolled >140,000 HIV-infected patients (>77,000 initiated on ART), and our significant experience with both task shifting and community-based health care delivery. In conducting this study we hope to develop and test a model of HIV-care that will minimize the number of health care providers needed to deliver HIV care while maximizing patient outcomes including engagement and retention in care as well as durability of regimen. In addition we anticipate that such a model will be scalable to other settings in sub-Saharan Africa as the resources necessary for this model exist in most communities within the region.
One of the biggest challenges to attaining universal access to antiretroviral therapy (ART) in sub-Saharan Africa is the profound shortage of healthcare manpower, considering that the region is home to only 3% of the global healthcare workforce yet hosts >65% of the world's HIV-infected population. We propose to develop, implement and rigorously evaluate a novel model of ART care (that decongests healthcare facilities without compromising quality of care) that shifts part of the care and treatment tasks from the healthcare worker to HIV-infected patients, in the community, through a HIV-infected peer-group ('ART Co-operatives') platform.