Pierre S, Riviera V, Jean CP, Louis MJ, Reif LK, Severe P, Rouzier V, Johnson WD, Pape JW, Fitzgerald DW, McNairy ML, Boutin-Foster C. Live with the Disease Like You Used to Before You Knew You Were Infected: A Qualitative Study Among 10-Year Survivors Living with HIV in Haiti. AIDS patient care and STDs. 2017 Mar;31(31). 145-151. PMID: 28282245 [PubMed] PMCID: PMC5359685
In 2003, the Haitian Study Group on Kaposi's Sarcoma and Opportunistic Infections (GHESKIO), a nonprofit organization, began administering antiretroviral therapy (ART) to its patients. This practice transformed HIV from a fatal disease to a more manageable chronic condition. However, relatively few studies focus on the experiences of survivors. This study provided a unique opportunity to interview patients who survived at least 10 years after being treated with ART at GHESKIO. The goal of the study was to elicit from patients their perspectives on what enabled them to survive with AIDS. Grounded Theory, a qualitative research method was used to guide data collection, coding, and analysis. Individual interviews were conducted, audio-taped, transcribed and analyzed in Creole, and translated into English. Data saturation was reached at 25 participants. Of which, 64% were women, the mean age was 49, range of 43-55 years, 24% were married, 44% had not completed elementary school, and 72% had no income, the remaining participants had incomes ranging from $1000 to $5000 annually. Qualitative analysis resulted in 681 codes, which were grouped into six categories: being spiritually grounded, having supportive interactions with providers, caring for children, setting personal goals, persevering and living life as usual, and maintaining strict medication adherence practices. The overarching theory was that having a reason to live despite one's circumstances and living life as usual enabled one to survive. Having a strong spiritual foundation coupled with supportive family and providers motivated participants to live and adhere to their ART. As the number of patients who are living longer with HIV in Haiti increases, results from this study will be important in helping tailor interventions that enhance their overall quality of life.