“The one who doesn’t take ART medication has no wealth at all and no purpose on Earth” – a qualitative assessment of how HIV-positive adults in Uganda understand the health and wealth-related benefits of ART

Academic Article


  • Background: Increases in life expectancy from antiretroviral therapy (ART) may influence future health and wealth among people living with HIV (PLWH). What remains unknown is how PLWH in care perceive the benefits of ART adherence, particularly in terms of improving health and wealth in the short and long-term at the individual, household, and structural levels. Understanding future-oriented attitudes towards ART may help policymakers tailor care and treatment programs with both short and long-term-term health benefits in mind, to improve HIV-related outcomes for PLWH. Methods: In this qualitative study, we conducted semi-structured interviews among a subsample of 40 PLWH in care at a clinic in Uganda participating in a randomized clinical trial for treatment adherence in Uganda (clinicaltrials.gov: NCT03494777). Interviews were transcribed verbatim and translated from Luganda into English. Two co-authors independently reviewed transcripts, developed a detailed codebook, achieved 93% agreement on double-coded interviews, and analyzed data using inductive and deductive content analysis. Applying the social-ecological framework at the individual, household, and structural levels, we examined how PLWH perceived health and wealth-related benefits to ART. Results: Our findings revealed several benefits of ART expressed by PLWH, going beyond the short-term health benefits to also include long-term economic benefits. Such benefits largely focused on the ability of PLWH to live longer and be physically and mentally healthy, while also fulfilling responsibilities at the individual level pertaining to themselves (especially in terms of positive long-term habits and motivation to work harder), at the household level pertaining to others (such as improved relations with family and friends), and at the structural level pertaining to society (in terms of reduced stigma, increased comfort in disclosure, and higher levels of civic responsibility). Conclusions: PLWH consider short and long-term health benefits of ART. Programming designed to shape ART uptake and increase adherence should emphasize the broader benefits of ART at various levels. Having such benefits directly integrated into the design of clinic-based HIV interventions can be useful especially for PLWH who face competing interests to increase medication adherence. These benefits can ultimately help providers and policymakers better understand PLWH’s decision-making as it relates to improving ART-related outcomes.
  • Authors

    Published In

  • BMC Public Health  Journal
  • Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Author List

  • Saya U; MacCarthy S; Mukasa B; Wabukala P; Lunkuse L; Wagner Z; Linnemayr S
  • Volume

  • 22
  • Issue

  • 1