“I didn’t know that…” patient perceptions of print information, education, and communication related to HIV/AIDS treatment
Improving health literacy is a necessary intervention for people with chronic health conditions to ensure adherence with long or life therapies and increase participation in self-care. While adherence is a multifactorial process, increasing health literacy among HIV-infected patients at all stages of living with HIV has been shown to improve treatment outcomes. In the era of rapid scale up of HIV care and treatment, little has been done to evaluate the utility of IEC materials for increasing patient health literacy and how patients perceive such materials. Four patient-oriented print IEC brochures in Swahili were designed to be read at the clinic waiting areas and also carried home by patients to supplement the knowledge received from routine counseling during clinic visits. Brochures detail antiretroviral therapy and address common myths, side effects, types and management of opportunistic infections, and prevention of mother to child transmission of HIV. We conducted focus group discussions with HIV-infected patients to explore patient perceptions of IEC materials in the urban congested HIV care setting of Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. Groups of participants were recruited from eight public PEPFAR-supported HIV care and treatment centers in the city (N=50). In this paper we present the results of those focus group discussions and introduce the print IEC materials as a pilot intervention in a Swahili-speaking setting where a need for additional health literacy exists. Further evaluation of these materials will follow as the data becomes available.