Exploring attitudes and perceptions of patients and staff towards an after-hours co-pay clinic supplementing free HIV services in Kampala, Uganda.

23 Aug 2017

BACKGROUND: There has been a rapid scale up of HIV services and access to anti-retroviral therapy in Africa over the last 10 years as a result of multilateral donor funding mechanisms. However, in order to continue to expand and to sustain these services it is important that "in country" options are explored. This study sought to explore attitudes and perceptions of people living with HIV (PLHIV) and health care staff towards using a fee-based "after hours" clinic (AHC) at the Infectious Diseases Institute (IDI) in Kampala, Uganda. METHODS: A cross-sectional study design, using qualitative methods for data collection was used. A purposeful sample of 188 adults including PLHIV accessing care at IDI and IDI staff were selected. We conducted 14 focus group discussions and 55 in-depth interviews. Thematic content analysis was conducted and Nvivo Software Version 10 was used to manage data. RESULTS: Findings suggested that some respondents were willing to pay for consultation, brand-name drugs, laboratory tests and other services. Many were willing to recommend the AHC to friends and/or relatives. However, there were concerns expressed of a risk that the co-pay model may lead to reduction in quality or provision of the free service. Respondents agreed that, as a sign of social responsibility, fees for service could help underprivileged patients. CONCLUSION: The IDI AHC clinic is perceived as beneficial to PLHIV because it provides access to HIV services at convenient times. Many PLHIV are willing to pay for this enhanced service. Innovations in HIV care delivery such as quality private-public partnerships may help to improve overall coverage and sustain quality HIV services in Uganda in the long term.