Perceptions of women enrolled in a cardiovascular disease screening and prevention in HIV study

S Afr Fam Pract (2004). 2023 Apr 24;65(1):e1-e9. doi: 10.4102/safp.v65i1.5554.


Background: The ISCHeMiA (integration of cardiovascular disease screening and prevention in the human immunodeficiency virus [HIV] management plan for women of reproductive age) study is an ongoing, 3-year, prospective, quasi-experimental study comparing usual care to a primary health care intervention plan guided by the World Health Organization Package of Essential Non-Communicable (WHO-PEN) disease interventions. Sixty eight percent of women were overweight or obese at baseline in the ISCHeMiA study, many of whom reported nonadherence to interventions at 6 months post enrolment. This study explores the perceptions of women living with HIV (WHIV) towards their participation in the ISCHeMiA study to understand the barriers and facilitators to lifestyle modification interventions for cardiovascular disease (CVD) risk prevention.

Methods: A qualitative enquiry using semistructured interviews was conducted with 30 overweight WHIV at one year post-enrolment in the WHO-PEN intervention arm of the ISCHeMiA study. Data were transcribed verbatim following the interviews and analysed using conventional content analysis.

Results: Four major themes emerged from the data, namely perceived body image, benefits barriers and recommendations to improve adherence to WHO-PEN lifestyle modification management.

Conclusion: Women in the ISCHeMiA study believed that HIV associated stigma hindered access to care. Financial limitations and the lack of social support posed barriers to adherence to programme participation. They were further challenged by poor body image perception. Participants believed that such interventions offered them hope and feelings of improved well-being. Women recommended that lifestyle modification interventions such as those studied in the ISCHeMiA study should include partners and family to improve adherence through social support.

Keywords: South Africa; WHO-PEN; body image; cardiovascular disease screening and prevention; women with HIV.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Cardiovascular Diseases* / diagnosis
  • Cardiovascular Diseases* / prevention & control
  • Female
  • HIV
  • HIV Infections* / diagnosis
  • HIV Infections* / prevention & control
  • Humans
  • Overweight
  • Prospective Studies