Support Among People With HIV Improves Adherence to Treatment
Since the beginning of the HIV pandemic and before the health authorities reacted to the emergency, the support between people who are going through the same thing has been very important for those who receive a diagnosis. The so-called self-support groups are present in almost all infection care programs around the world.
A group of researchers from the Norwegian Institute of Public Health found that such support between people with HIV (called peer support) improves adherence to antiretroviral treatment, permanence in medical care, and even viral suppression, that is, the decrease of the amount of HIV in the blood to less than 100 copies/mL.
The emotional and social support of these strategies involves not only being people with HIV but also being from specific groups that support each other, such as men who have sex with men, transgender people, or women.
Peer Support Gives Better Results
The research team reviewed 20 studies conducted on peer support programs in countries such as the United States, Nigeria, South Africa, China, and Spain, among others, reports the website aidsmap.com.
In terms of retention in medical care, that is, people returning to be seen, the research showed that there was statistically significant improvement within a 12-month period from having peer support.
Adherence to treatment, which means complying with at least 90% of antiretroviral treatment each week, was also driven by peer support.
Regarding viral suppression, the researchers found that people with peer support were twice as likely to have viral suppression as those who did not receive that support.
Although the final results were positive in these respects, the team also clarified that the partial results of the studies they reviewed were very different between each other, for this reason, they should be taken with caution.
Thus, the study concludes that “the modest but important improvements in these results suggest that peer support should be considered as a treatment approach to support existing HIV care services.“
If you live with HIV and are looking for support free of stigma and discrimination, look for an AHF Latin America and the Caribbean center closest to you. We have counseling and support groups. We can help you!