Successful HIV treatment means more than antiretroviral therapy. In the context of extreme poverty, an individual’s ability to adhere to HIV treatment is jeopardized when he or she lacks access to basic needs such as nutrition, housing, and transportation.
For 25 years, Partners In Health has demonstrated that effective health care goes beyond medicines. By providing socio-economic support in the form of food, shelter, sanitation, education, and economic opportunities, Partners In Health has revolutionized health outcomes for the most vulnerable patients.
This year, FACE AIDS chapters across the country are celebrating Partners In Health’s 25th anniversary year by raising $250,000 to support wrap-around care for HIV patients. In addition to funding concrete items such as food packages and school fees, our contributions will support Community Health Workers, who are instrumental in assessing patients’ needs and delivering comprehensive care.
Background: The Status Quo in Global Health
“…Our work would be ineffective without mechanisms to address patients’ long-term socioeconomic needs. HIV spreads quickly along the social fault lines of poverty and gender inequality, and social and economic stressors fuel the epidemic.”
- PIH Guide to Community-Based Treatment of HIV in Resource-Poor Settings, 2008 (pg. 98)
It is essential that HIV+ patients receiving antiretroviral therapy take their medications as prescribed. Failure to adhere to drug regimens puts patients at risk of developing resistance to their medications, thus jeopardizing their health. However, staying engaged in HIV care is difficult for patients living in poverty. While many HIV programs offer care at hospitals and health centers, this facility-based care can be hard to access for patients who live far away and lack the socioeconomic stability necessary to maintain their treatment regimen.
How Partners in Health Is Innovating:
Partners In Health’s model of care is built on a strong foundation of community-based care provided by Community Health Workers (CHWs), paired with socio-economic support for patients. CHWs accompany patients to clinic visits, monitor for health problems, identify potential barriers to treatment adherence, and directly observe patients taking their medications. A recent study by Partners In Health’s Dr. Molly Franke, Dr. Michael Rich, and colleagues in Rwanda demonstrates that that CHW accompaniment increases patient retention in HIV treatment and improves health outcomes. The Haitian proverb, lave men, siye atè (washing one’s hands then wiping them dry in the dirt), reflects Partner In Health’s commitment to the fact that successful care exists beyond medicines.
Community Health Workers in Rwanda