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Diseases and Disparities: The Impact of COVID‐19 Disruptions on Sexual and Reproductive Health Services Among the HIV Community in India

Neha Parikh · Angela Chaudhuri · Syama B. Syam · Pratishtha Singh · Prachi Pal · Praneeth Pillala

January 21, 2022

Abstract:

People with HIV navigate numerous challenges to access healthcare in India. In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the lockdown presents further challenges in accessing sexual and reproductive health (SRH) services. This research explored the impact of the pandemic on SRH services, and the depth of disruptions faced by people living with HIV (PLHIV) in accessing treatment. Using purposive sampling with maximum variation technique, we recruited and conducted 150 telephonic in-depth interviews with PLHIV and HIV care providers (HCPs) from five states in India (Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh, and Telangana). The interviews were recorded, transcribed, coded, and analyzed using interpretative phenomenological analysis. Five main themes were identified: the effect of COVID-19 on (1) access to care, (2) quality of care, (3) social determinants of health, (4) system and community resilience, and (5) support required to address population-specific vulnerabilities. Despite the availability of free government treatment services during the pandemic, profound disruptions in the SRH services, particularly antiretroviral therapy and HIV care, were reported by PLHIV and HCPs. 

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This qualitative study revealed how existing inequities in HIV treatment and care are exacerbated by the pandemic. These findings highlight that the pandemic response should be community-centered to prevent extreme disruptions in healthcare which will have a disastrous effect on the lives of PLHIV.

You can read the detailed study here.

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