This longitudinal qualitative study sought to understand how and why a livelihood intervention affected the health and health behaviors of HIV-infected Kenyan adults. The intervention included a microfinance loan, agricultural and financial training, and a human-powered water pump. In-depth interviews were conducted at two time points with intervention and control participants and program staff. We double coded interviews (n = 117) and used thematic content analysis of transcripts following an integrative inductive-deductive approach. Intervention participants described improvements in HIV health, including increased CD4 counts and energy, improved viral suppression, and fewer HIV-related symptoms. Better health was linked to improved clinic attendance and ART adherence through several mechanisms: (1) reductions in food insecurity and abject hunger; (2) improved financial stability; (3) improved productivity which enhanced social support; (4) better control over work situations; and, (5) renewed desire to prioritize their own health. Livelihood interventions may improve health by influencing upstream determinants of health behavior including food security and poverty.
Trial registration: ClinicalTrials.gov NCT01548599.
Keywords: Adherence; Food insecurity; HIV/AIDS; Kenya; Livelihood intervention; Qualitative research.