Barriers to and enablers of uptake of antiretroviral therapy in integrated HIV and tuberculosis treatment programmes in sub-Saharan Africa: A systematic review and meta-analysis



Programmes that merge management of Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) and tuberculosis (TB) aim to improve HIV/TB co-infected patients’ access to comprehensive treatment. However, several reports from sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) indicate suboptimal uptake of antiretroviral therapy (ART) even after integration of HIV and TB treatment. This study assessed ART uptake, its barriers and enablers in programmes integrating TB and HIV treatment in SSA.


A systematic review was performed. Seven databases were searched for eligible quantitative, qualitative and mixed-methods studies published from March 2004 through July 2019. Random-effects meta-analysis was used to obtain pooled estimates of ART uptake. A thematic approach was used to analyse and synthesise data on barriers and enablers.


Of 5139 references identified, 27 were included in the review: 23/27 estimated ART uptake and 10/27 assessed barriers to and/or enablers of ART uptake. The pooled ART uptake was 53% (95% CI: 42, 63%) and between-study heterogeneity was high (I2 = 99.71%, p < 0.001). WHO guideline on collaborative TB/HIV activities and sample size were associated with heterogeneity. There were statistically significant subgroup effects with high heterogeneity after subgroup analyses by region, guideline on collaborative TB/HIV activities, study design, and sample size. The most frequently described socioeconomic and individual level barriers to ART uptake were stigma, low income, and younger age group. The most frequently reported health system-related barriers were limited staff capacity, shortages in medical supplies, lack of infrastructure, and poor adherence to or lack of treatment guidelines. Clinical barriers included intolerance to anti-TB drugs, fear of drug toxicity, and contraindications to antiretrovirals. Health system enablers included good management of the procurement, supply, and dispensation chain; convenience and accessibility of treatment services; and strong staff capacity. Availability of psychosocial support was the most frequently reported enabler of uptake at the community level.


In SSA, programmes integrating treatment of TB and HIV do not, in general, achieve high ART uptake but we observe a net improvement in uptake after WHO issued the 2012 guidelines on collaborative TB/HIV activities. The recurrence of specific modifiable system-level and patient-level factors in the literature reveals key intervention points to improve ART uptake in these programmes.


Kadia BM, Dimala CA, Fongwen NT, Smith AD




  • Epidemiology and Determinants of Health
    • Determinants of Health
  • Determinants of Health
    • Income
    • Stigma/discrimination
  • Population(s)
    • General HIV+ population
  • Prevention, Engagement and Care Cascade
    • Engagement and Care Cascade
  • Engagement and Care Cascade
    • Treatment
  • Co-infections
    • Tuberculosis
  • Health Systems
    • Delivery arrangements


Abstract/Full paper

Email 1 selected articles

Email 1 selected articles

Error! The email wasn't sent. Please try again.

Your email has been sent!