ART Use or Non Use – Share Your Views on HIV Treatment

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HPTO Blog 24 OctoberWe know that living with HIV can bring about some challenges and some decisions to be made along the way. One of those decisions is about HIV antiretroviral treatment. Whilst HIV treatment has unequivocally been shown to be the only way to keep HIV viral load at bay (and restore the immune system), different experiences and opinions can emerge about wholistic health and wellbeing.

First of all, the decision about when to start antiretroviral treatment not only varies among doctors in accordance with their individual patient needs, but also among people considering starting treatment, even though anyone with HIV can start treatment anytime they wish now. Questions may arise like, are there any benefits to early treatment or should I wait? Or lifestyle matters, like am I ready to do this? Is my daily life and support structures well ordered that I can adhere to daily treatment? Other things may emerge like can I afford my medicines? What if I get side effects even though I know that treatment is not as difficult to take like it once was – HIV is different now, but am I ready? How will treatment make me feel? What if I don’t understand what my choices are? What about long term use of treatment too? – People who have taken treatment for a while may also have some viewpoints about remaining on treatment, or experiences about specific treatments they have been on, and questions about long term treatment outcomes.  Everyone may wonder about their health future…

These are all valid questions, and there is always help available to help with the answers. Sometimes we can find the answers by putting our own opinions forward as well. Providing your thoughts on treatment can also help clarify and reveal your position and views about treatment, but it can also help give clinicians, community leaders, and policy makers a better understanding of why people use, or not use, HIV antiretroviral therapy….That is the purpose of this new study (outlined below) which seeks to better understand why some people choose to take HIV antiretroviral treatment and others choose not to.  The study asks a range of questions not only about treatment, but also self-management approaches and complementary and alternative medicine approaches and viewpoints.

ART use and non-use: an anonymous online survey

Experienced researchers from the Centre for Social Research in Health (CSRH), UNSW, Australia would like to invite people living with HIV (PLHIV) to participate an online survey. The survey is anonymous and will take about 30-45 minutes to self-complete.

Funded by the Australian National Health and Medical Research Council, we want to have a better understanding of ART use and non-use among PLHIV. We will explore people’s experiences with ART and measure a number of clinical, personal, social and structural factors of ART use and non-use.

If you are aged 18 years or above, living with HIV in Australia, we would like your help! Participation is voluntary. If you wish to take part in the survey, please click the following link http://artuse.csrh.org/, which will direct you to the study webpage.

This study has obtained ethics approval from UNSW (HC14183) and ACON (2014/18). The National Association of People with HIV Australia (NAPWHA) and Australian Federation of AIDS Organisations (AFAO) are our key research collaborators.