247665 Can Soul Fathers improve Antiretroviral adherence in Orthodox Ethiopia?

Monday, October 31, 2011

Sarah Rawlins, BSN, MPH(c) , School of Public Health and Community Medicine, Global Health Department, University of Washington, Seattle, WA
Background: The Amhara region of Ethiopia faces an epidemic of HIV/AIDS, where prevalence is 50% higher than the national prevalence of 1.4%. Research demonstrates that religious leaders may be influential in improving Antiretroviral adherence. The cities of Gondar and Debark, Ethiopia are located in the Amhara region, where Orthodox Christianity accounts for nearly 50% of the population and informs much of the population's health seeking behaviors. It is hypothesized that Soul Fathers, which are specialized priests, may serve as promising entry points for improving antiretroviral adherence in these specific geographic areas. Methods: In-depth, structured interviews will be conducted with three groups of ART patients (Adherent, Lost, Default) at both Gondar University Hospital and Debark Hospital. Participants will be chosen through purposive sampling and interviews will cease when saturation of data has been reached. The researchers will additionally conduct a series of focus group discussions with Soul Fathers in both Gondar and Debark. Results will be analyzed using grounded theory. Results: Preliminary findings from a baseline needs assessment conducted last March support the research hypothesis where 67% (n=33) of those interviewed held the belief that educated Soul Fathers can help to improve HIV/AIDS care in Orthodox Ethiopia. Leaders of both faith and medical institutions identified this as a potentially powerful area for integration. Conclusions: It is anticipated that the findings of this research will help to inform the planning of program interventions and policies directed toward improving HIV/AIDS care in Northwestern Ethiopia.

Learning Areas:
Assessment of individual and community needs for health education
Diversity and culture
Implementation of health education strategies, interventions and programs
Planning of health education strategies, interventions, and programs
Public health or related research

Learning Objectives:
1. Identify areas of influence within the Ethiopian Orthodox Church, which can be leveraged to improve HIV/AIDS care in Amhara, Ethiopia 2. Describe current challenges of integrating faith and medicine in Amhara, Ethiopia

Keywords: International Health, Challenges and Opportunities

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I am a public health graduate student at the University of Washington and am writing about the research I am conducting in Ethiopia.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.