The African Jesuit AIDS Network (AJAN) is conducting research into access to AIDS treatment in sub-Saharan Africa to achieve improved wellbeing for people with HIV.
Through interviews with people living with HIV, the research is attempting to gauge the extent of their access not only to antiretroviral therapy (ART) but also to comprehensive healthcare services that guarantee proper management of their condition. AIDS associations are also being interviewed.
Jesuit AIDS projects, Jesuit social justice centres and other NGOs partnering with us are carrying out the research in nine countries.
So far, we have research results from Kenya, South Africa and Tanzania. Many of our respondents indicated that their life would be much easier if they had clinics within walking distance and if they spent less time in queues that stretch for hours to get their treatment.
Other challenges mentioned were a lack of community-based care, understaffed clinics, and shortfalls in supplies of antiretroviral drugs (ARVs), tests and medication for opportunistic infections.
However most of the 380 people interviewed seemed happy with the care they receive. Some 96% said they get their ARVs for free and over 90% expressed satisfaction with a range of components of their care, including the attitude of healthcare staff. Kenya, Tanzania and South Africa have all worked hard to expand access to treatment; the picture that emerges from other countries may not be as positive.
AJAN will also be analysing research undertaken in Burundi, DR Congo, Malawi, Ivory Coast, Zambia and Zimbabwe.
AJAN will join its campaign partners and other NGOs in making use of the research to urge African governments to take more responsibility for their domestic AIDS response and to work in earnest to achieve genuine, equitable and sustainable universal access.
An underlying aim of the campaign is to advocate so that those governments that have not yet done so will honour their commitment undertaken in the 2001 Abuja Declaration to allocate at least 15% of their annual budget to healthcare – the basic minimum for a functioning primary healthcare service.
Go here to read our World AIDS Day statement for 2014 about our initial findings.