Does membership of peer support group affect retention? A study among PLWHA in Enugu State Nigeria
Background: With the widely acknowledged ART scale up, retention of people living with HIV/AIDS (PLWHA) in care remains a global challenge. The study aimed at assessing and comparing retention among persons living with HIV in peer support groups and their counterparts not belonging to support groups in Enugu State Nigeria.
Method: It was across-sectional comparative study. Multi stage study design was used to select 840 PLWHA in peer support groups and non-peer support groups from 8 comprehensive HIV treatment centers in Enugu State. Questionnaires were used to collect data on socio-demographic characteristics while retention over a period of one year was extracted from the participants' medical records. Chi square test of statistical significance and multivariate analysis using binary logistic regression were used in the analysis with the level of statistical significance set at ap-value of <0.05.
Results: A significantly higher proportion of respondents in the peer support groups,(89.8%) had adequate retention when compared with those in the non-peer support groups (84.5%).Being self-employed (AOR 2.6, 95% CI: 1.1-6.1) and residing in urban areas (AOR 2.6, 95% CI: 1.2-5.8) predicted retention-in-care among respondents in peer support groups.
Conclusion: Belonging to peer support groups enhanced retention among PLWHA. Hence, group approach with peer supporters as a method of improving retention in-care among PLWHA should be encouraged. Also, there may be the need to pay attention to the socio economic status of PLWHA by economically empowering them through vocational trainings and provision of soft loans with more emphasis on those residing in rural areas.
Keywords: Retention, Peer support, PLWHA, Enugu state, Nigeria