Document Type



Obstetrics and Gynaecology (East Africa)


Background: At the points where an infectious disease and risk factors for poor health intersect, while health problems may be compounded, there is also an opportunity to provide health services. Where human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection and alcohol consumption intersect include infection with HIV, onward transmission of HIV, impact on HIV and acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS) disease progression, and premature death. The levels of knowledge and attitudes relating to the health and treatment outcomes of HIV and AIDS and the concurrent consumption of alcohol need to be determined. This study aimed to ascertain the knowledge, attitudes and practices of primary healthcare workers concerning the concurrent consumption of alcohol of clinic attendees who are prescribed antiretroviral drugs. An assessment of the exchange of information on the subject between clinic attendees and primary healthcare providers forms an important aspect of the research. A further objective of this study is an assessment of the level of alcohol consumption of people living with HIV and AIDS attending public health facilities in the Western Cape Province in South Africa, to which end, the study reviewed health workers’ perceptions of the problem’s extent. A final objective is to contribute to the development of evidence-based guidelines for AIDS patients who consume alcohol when on ARVs. The overall study purpose is to optimise antiretroviral health outcomes for all people living with HIV and AIDS, but with specific reference to the clinic attendees studied in this research.

Methods: Overall the research study utilised mixed methods. Three group-specific questionnaires were administered between September 2013 and May 2014. The resulting qualitative data presented here supplements the results of the quantitative data questionnaires for HIV and AIDS clinic attendees, which have been analysed and written up separately. This arm of the research study comprised two, separate, semi-structured sets of interviews: one face-to-face with healthcare workers at the same primary healthcare clinics from which the clinic attendees were sampled, and the other with administrators from the local government health service via email. The qualitative analysis from the primary healthcare worker interviews has been analysed using thematic content analysis.

Results: The key capacity gaps for nurses include the definition of different patterns and volumes of alcohol consumption, resultant health outcomes and how to answer patient questions on alcohol consumption while on antiretroviral treatment. Not only did the counsellors lack knowledge regarding alcohol abuse and its treatment, but they were also they were unclear on their role and rights in relation to their patients. Doctors highlighted the need for additional training for clinicians in diagnosing alcohol use disorders and information on the pharmacological interventions to treat alcoholism.

Conclusion: Pertinent knowledge regarding patient alcohol consumption while taking ARVs needs to be disseminated to primary healthcare workers.


This work was published before the author joined Aga Khan University.

Publication (Name of Journal)

Globalization and Health