Factors associated with the retention of HIV-infected children in care in Botswana

Edwin Masese Machine, The University of Texas School of Public Health


Lost to follow up (LTFU) in the care and treatment of HIV/AIDS represents a particularly problematic aspect when evaluating the success of treatment programs. Identifying modifiable factors that lead to LTFU would be important if we are to design effective retention interventions. The purpose of this study was to identify the challenges faced by children seeking care and treatment at a large HIV Clinic in Botswana. In order to identify those factors, we used mixed methods from different sources of information available at the Baylor Clinic. The first method involved a case-control study through which we interviewed a select representation of children 1-18 years who, at some point in time, have attended clinic at Baylor Clinic in Gaborone, Botswana. We document this in detail using the first journal article. We defined LTFU as patients who had not attended clinic for more than 6 months at the onset of the study; the comparison group was recruited from among those who have attended clinic at any point in the 6 months leading to the start of study. Factors were compared between the cases and controls. The second methodology involved conducting in-depth interviews with health providers to elicit their opinions and experiences dealing with patients at the at the Baylor clinic in general and the LTFU patients in particular. We document this methodology and its findings in the second journal article. We found that most patients that are LTFU failed to engage with the clinic. Most of the LTFU made only one visit to the clinic (47.66%) as compared to less than 1% in the control group (P<0.01, 2-tailed Fisher's exact test). Among the interviewed patients, psychosocial factors such as stigma, religious beliefs, child rebellion and disclosure of HIV status concerns were characteristic of the LTFU population, but psychosocial issues were not cited among the comparison group. We also found that these psychosocial aspects of the patients point towards a bigger problem of mental health that needs to be addressed. Socioeconomic factors such as lack of transport, school-related activities and forgetting check-up dates were cited predominantly by the controls than cases. From these findings, there is need to target interventions towards engaging pediatric patients at their initial clinic visit. Such interventions would focus on psychosocial support, as well as involving faith-based organizations in planning joint responses.

Subject Area

Public health|South African Studies

Recommended Citation

Machine, Edwin Masese, "Factors associated with the retention of HIV-infected children in care in Botswana" (2013). Texas Medical Center Dissertations (via ProQuest). AAI3590571.