Qualitative Evaluation of Treatment Partners for People With HIV in Botswana

Botswana has an adult HIV prevalence of 20.8% and annual incidence of 0.2%. We aimed to evaluate current practices and advance recommendations for treatment partners (informal adherence supporters) for people with HIV in Botswana. In January-February 2020, we conducted seven focus groups with 36 healthcare providers at seven HIV clinics in Gaborone, Botswana. Providers perceived treatment partners to be critical for quality patient care. They shared that in the new era of universal antiretroviral therapy (ART) initiation immediately after diagnosis (“test-and-treat”), providers no longer require patients to select treatment partners at ART initiation. Providers suggested a renewed emphasis on treatment partners. They believed that standard guidance for providers around treatment partner selection would ensure that providers cover similar topics across patients and endorsed implementation of workshops to educate treatment partners on how to support patients. However, streamlined ART initiation policies require innovative strategies, including eHealth interventions, to engage treatment partners.

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