HIV-positive Kenyan men who have sex with men (MSM) are a highly stigmatized group facing barriers to care engagement and antiretroviral therapy (ART) adherence. Because care providers' views are important in improving outcomes, we sought the perspective of those serving MSM patients on how to optimize ART adherence in a setting where same-sex behavior is criminalized. We conducted 4 focus group discussions with a total of 29 healthcare workers (HCWs) experienced in providing HIV care to MSM. The semistructured, open-ended topic guide used was based on an access-information-motivation-proximal cues model of adherence, with added focus on trust in providers, stigma, and discrimination. Detailed facilitator notes and transcripts were translated into English and reviewed for common themes. The HCW identified adherence challenges of MSM patients that are similar to those of the general population, including HIV-related stigma and lack of disclosure. In addition, HCWs noted challenges specific to MSM, such as lack of access to MSM-friendly health services, economic and social challenges due to stigma, difficult relationships with care providers, and discrimination at the clinic and in the community. HCWs recommended clinic staff sensitivity training, use of trained MSM peer navigators, and stigma reduction in the community as interventions that might improve adherence and health outcomes for MSM. Despite noting MSM-specific barriers, HCWs recommended strategies for improving HIV care for MSM in rights-constrained settings that merit future research attention. Most likely, multilevel interventions incorporating both individual and structural factors will be necessary.
Keywords: HIV-AIDS; Kenya; adherence; antiretroviral therapy; healthcare providers; men who have sex with men.