"That makes me feel human": a qualitative evaluation of the acceptability of an HIV differentiated care intervention for formerly incarcerated people re-entering community settings in South Africa

BMC Health Serv Res. 2022 Aug 26;22(1):1092. doi: 10.1186/s12913-022-08469-2.


Background: Correctional settings in South Africa have disproportionately high rates of HIV infection; a large number of inmates living with HIV return to the community each year. The transition community adherence club (TCAC) intervention was a differentiated care delivery approach with structural and peer components designed to increase antiretroviral therapy (ART) adherence and HIV care engagement following release from incarceration. The objective of this study was to assess the acceptability of the TCAC intervention among HIV-infected community re-entrants to inform program revisions and future intervention designs.

Methods: This was a qualitative study set within a randomized controlled trial (RCT) of the TCAC intervention in South Africa. We conducted semi-structured, in-depth interviews with 16 re-entrants living with HIV and assigned to the intervention arm. All interviews were audio-recorded, transcribed, translated, and de-identified. Transcripts were coded and analyzed using content analysis, and acceptability was assessed using the Theoretical Framework of Acceptability (TFA).

Results: Overall, study participants reported that the TCAC intervention was acceptable. Development of supportive relationships between participants, non-judgmental attitudes from peer-facilitators, and perceived effectiveness of the intervention to support ART adherence and HIV care were noted as the most valued components. An altruistic desire to help other participants facing similar post-incarceration and HIV-related challenges was a key motivator for TCAC attendance. A lack of access to reliable transportation to intervention sites and clinic-based medication collection were described as burdens to program participation. Illicit drug use by other group members and negative social influences were also identified as potential barriers to optimal program engagement.

Conclusion: The TCAC was a well-accepted model of differentiated care delivery among re-entrants living with HIV in South Africa. To further enhance intervention acceptability for future scale-ups, program revisions should address logistical barriers related to reaching TCAC sites and implementing ART distribution at TCAC group sessions.

Keywords: Acceptability; Care continuum; HIV; Peer; Prison; South Africa.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Anti-Retroviral Agents
  • HIV Infections*
  • Humans
  • Medication Adherence
  • Prisoners*
  • South Africa


  • Anti-Retroviral Agents