Reasons Why High Religiosity Can Co-Exist with and Precipitate Discontinuation of Anti-Retroviral Therapy Among Different HIV Clients in Uganda

An Exploratory Study

Published In: Religions, v. 3, no. 3, Sep. 2012, p. 817-832

Posted on RAND.org on September 01, 2012

by Christopher Tumwine, Stella Neema, Glenn Wagner

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In-depth interviews were conducted with 39 very religious people living with HIV (16 had ever and 23 had never discontinued antiretroviral therapy—ART) to assess the role of religion in these treatment decisions and in coping with HIV. Participants who had ever discontinued ART gave reasons such as: teachings and prophecies from religious leaders, and supporting Biblical scriptures all of which led them to feel that God and their faith, not ART, would help them; and testimonies by their "already healed" peers who had stopped ART. Participants who had never discontinued ART gave reasons such as continuous adherence counseling from multiple sources, improvement in physical health as a result of ART, and beliefs that God heals in different ways and that non-adherence is equal to putting God to a test. High religiosity was reported to help participants cope with HIV through engagement in personal and or community protective behaviours, "taking care of other illness", and reducing worries. When high religiosity among people living with HIV (PHAs) becomes a barrier to ART adherence, the adherence counseling provided can draw on experiences of PHAs with high religiosity who have sustained good adherence to ART and achieved good health outcomes.

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