This study assesses malaria prevention and treatment behaviour among people living with HIV/AIDS (PLWHA) in Owerri, South Eastern Nigeria. Although Nigeria bears one of the world's largest burdens of both malaria and HIV, there is almost no research studying how co-infected patients manage their care. We systematically sampled 398 PLWHA receiving care at Imo State Specialist Hospital and the Federal Medical Centre in Owerri to complete a structured, pre-tested questionnaire on malaria care-seeking behaviour. Descriptive statistics were reported and chi-square tests and multivariate logistic regressions were also used. The majority of HIV-infected patients (78.9%) reported having had an episode of suspected malaria quarterly or more often. There was a large variation in care-seeking patterns: on suspicion of malaria, 29.1% of participants engaged in self-medication; 39.2% went to drug shops, and only 22.6% visited HIV/AIDS care centres. Almost 40% waited more than 24 hours before initiating treatment. Most (60.3%), reported taking recommended artemisinin-based combination treatments (ACT) but a significant minority took only paracetamol (25.6%) or herbal remedies (3.5%). Most (80%) finished their chosen course of treatment; and completion of treatment was significantly associated with the frequency of suspected malaria occurrence (p = 0.03). Most (62.8%) did not take anti-malaria medication while taking antiretroviral treatment (ART) and almost all (87.6%) reported taking an ACT regimen that could potentially interact with Nigeria's first-line ART regimen. Our findings suggest the need to pay more attention to malaria prevention and control as a crucial element in HIV/AIDS management in this part of Nigeria and other areas where malaria and HIV/AIDS are co-endemic. Also, more research on ART-ACT interactions, better outreach to community-level drug shops and other private sector stakeholders, and clearer guidelines for clinicians and patients on preventing and managing co-infection may be needed. This will require improved collaboration between programmes for both diseases.
Chukwuocha, U. M., Iwuoha, G. N., Nwakwuo, G. C., Egbe, P. K., Ezeihekaibe, C. D., Ekiyor, C. P., . . . Burrowes, S. (2019). Malaria care-seeking behaviour among HIV-infected patients receiving antiretroviral treatment in south-eastern nigeria: A cross-sectional study. PLoS ONE, 14(5), [Article e0213742].
Originally published in PLoS ONE, 14(5), [Article e0213742]. The original material can be found here.