Big News Network (06.22.2013)
Aids Weekly Plus
University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) School of Nursing researchers reported that an intervention delivered by lay women trained as accredited social health activists (ASHA) was successful in improving antiretroviral therapy (ART), immune-cell counts, and nutrition levels among HIV-infected women in rural India. The ASHA-LIFE (AL) program supplied counseling to HIV-infected women and assisted them in obtaining healthcare and treatment. Barriers to care for rural, HIV-infected Indian women included stigma, transportation difficulties, and financial constraints.
The study randomly selected HIV-infected women in an Indian state, Andra Pradesh, to be part of either a six-month AL intervention or a control group. Both AL and control groups participated in six education sessions to learn about HIV/AIDS, dealing with the illness, adhering to ART, and overcoming barriers to treatment. Broader topics covered in the intervention included family care, nutrition, and life-skills. ASHA visited the women in the AL group to identify and overcome barriers to accessing ART and treatment and to supply high-protein foods. The control group received standard-protein foods and did not receive ASHA visits or support.
Adey Nyamathi, distinguished professor and associate dean of international research and scholarly studies at UCLA School of Nursing, stated the AL group had better ART adherence, higher CD4 T-cell levels, less “internalized stigma” and depression, and increases in body, muscle, and fat mass in comparison to the control group.
The full report, “Impact of Asha Intervention on Stigma Among Rural Indian Women with AIDS,” was published online in the Western Journal of Nursing Research (2013; doi: 10.1177/0193945913482050).
The full report, “Impact of an Asha Intervention on Depressive Symptoms Among Rural Women Living with AIDS in India: Comparison of the Asha-Life and Usual Care Program,” was published online in the journal AIDS Education and Prevention (2012; doi: 10.1521/aeap.2012.24.3.280).