UBC Faculty Research and Publications

How the COVID-19 Pandemic Influenced HIV Care : Are We Prepared Enough for Future Pandemics? : An Assessment of Factors Influencing Access, Utilization, Affordability, and Motivation to Engage with HIV Services amongst African, Caribbean, and Black Women McKay, Emily; Ojukwu, Emmanuela; Hirani, Saima; Sotindjo, Tatiana; Okedo-Alex, Ijeoma; Magagula, Patience

Abstract

The COVID-19 pandemic resulted in disruption in healthcare delivery for people living with human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). African, Caribbean, and Black women living with HIV (ACB WLWH) in British Columbia (BC) faced barriers to engage with HIV care services prior to the COVID-19 pandemic that were intensified by the transition to virtual care during the pandemic. This paper aims to assess which factors influenced ACB WLWH’s access to, utilization and affordability of, and motivation to engage with HIV care services. This study utilized a qualitative descriptive approach using in-depth interviews. Eighteen participants were recruited from relevant women’s health, HIV, and ACB organizations in BC. Participants felt dismissed by healthcare providers delivering services only in virtual formats and suggested that services be performed in a hybrid model to increase access and utilization. Mental health supports, such as support groups, dissolved during the pandemic and overall utilization decreased for many participants. The affordability of services pertained primarily to expenses not covered by the provincial healthcare plan. Resources should be directed to covering supplements, healthy food, and extended health services. The primary factor decreasing motivation to engage with HIV services was fear, which emerged due to the unknown impact of the COVID-19 virus on immunocompromised participants.

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CC BY 4.0