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Innovative intervention program improves life for rural women in India living with HIV/AIDS
Date:6/21/2013

A multidisciplinary team of researchers from UCLA and India has found that a new type of intervention program, in which lay women in the rural Indian province of Andra Pradesh were trained as social health activists to assist women who have HIV/AIDS, significantly improved patients' adherence to antiretroviral therapy and boosted their immune-cell counts and nutrition levels.

The lay women were trained by the research team to serve as accredited social health activists, or ASHA, and their work was overseen by rural nurses and physicians. These ASHA then provided counseling and support to the women with HIV/AIDS, as well as assistance aimed at removing the barriers they face in accessing health care and treatment.

"For rural women living with AIDS in India, stigma, financial constraints and transportation challenges continue to exist, making lifesaving antiretroviral therapy difficult to obtain," said lead researcher Adey Nyamathi, distinguished professor and associate dean of international research and scholarly activities at the UCLA School of Nursing.

In India, 2.47 million people are affected with HIV/AIDS, and more than half are women. The epidemic is shifting from urban to rural areas, and the rice-producing Andhra Pradesh district in southeastern India is at the epicenter; this area has the highest total number of HIV/AIDS cases of all states in the country, with nearly 20 percent of the population infected.

For the intervention study, women with HIV/AIDS in Andra Pradesh were randomly selected to participate either in the intervention, called AHSA-LIFE (AL), or in a control group.

Over a six-month period, the ASHA visited the women in the AL group to monitor the barriers they faced in accessing health care and adhering to their antiretroviral therapy and provided assistance to help mitigate these barriers. The ASHA also provided counseling to help women develop coping strategies to deal with discrimi
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Contact: Laura Perry
lperry@sonnet.ucla.edu
310-794-4022
University of California - Los Angeles
Source:Eurekalert

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