SURF

Laura Goy

Barriers to Retention and Treatment for HIV+ Malawian Patients with Drug Failure

Since the rollout of antiretroviral therapy (ART) in 2004, Malawi has made tremendous strides in the fight against HIV and has almost achieved the global targets for diagnosis and treatment set by UNAIDS. However, emerging drug resistance threatens the progress made in Malawi and other countries facing limited access to resources and technology. Alternative drug regimens are available in Malawi, but clinics are extremely inefficient at switching patients to these life-saving drugs. As a result, people with untreated resistance can develop AIDS and transmit drug-resistant HIV to others. To address these issues, I will spend this summer working with Partners in Hope (PIH), a nonprofit organization that operates HIV clinics across Malawi, in order to improve the clinical experiences and outcomes of patients who develop drug failure. I will explore the following question: What are the causes of low retention rates and inefficient linkages to services within PIH clinics? To answer this question, I will conduct a qualitative study in four PIH clinics in Southern Malawi by interviewing and observing providers and patients.

Message to Sponsor

I want to give a HUGE thank you to the Pease Fund! Because of your support, this past summer was filled with intellectual and personal growth, and it was undoubtedly the best summer of my life. Our collection of medical chart reviews, interviews, and observations in four Malawian HIV clinics has enabled my team to write formative policy recommendations for clinics across the country. I am confident that our recommendations will improve the counseling and overall care provided to high viral load HIV positive clients. I still cannot quite wrap my mind around the fact that my research is going to have a tangible positive impact on people's lives! Because of this past trip, I am determined to visit Malawi again after medical school so that I can continue to contribute to the HIV clinics there. It brings a smile to my face to know that future SURF fellows will get to experience life-shaping summers like mine.
  • Major: Public Health
  • Sponsor: Pease Fund
  • Mentor: Ann Swidler