Barriers and Facilitators of HIV Care Engagement: Results of a Qualitative Study in St. Petersburg, Russia.
Russia has a large HIV epidemic, but medical care engagement is low. Eighty HIV-positive persons in St. Petersburg completed in-depth interviews to identify barriers and facilitators of medical HIV care engagement. The most commonly-reported barriers involved difficulties accessing care providers, dissatisfaction with the quality of services, and negative attitudes of provider staff. Other barriers included not having illness symptoms, life stresses, low value placed on health, internalized stigma and wanting to hide one's HIV status, fears of learning about one's true health status, and substance abuse. Care facilitators were feeling responsible for one's health and one's family, care-related support from other HIV-positive persons, and the onset of health decline and fear of death. Substance use remission facilitated care engagement, as did good communication from providers and trust in one's doctor. Interventions are needed in Russia to address HIV care infrastructural barriers and integrate HIV, substance abuse, care, and psychosocial services.