Roles, barriers, and recommendations for community health workers providing community-based HIV care in sub-Saharan Africa: A review


While the impact of Community Health Workers (CHWs) on home-based human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) care has been documented, barriers and recommendations have not been systematically reviewed. Following the reporting requirements of the Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses (PRISMA) guidelines, we used an aggregative narrative synthesis approach to summarize the results of qualitative studies published between January 1, 2000, and November 6, 2020 in the following databases: PubMed, CINAHL, PsychINFO, Web of Science, and Google Scholar. In total, 17 studies met the selection criteria and were included in the analysis. They reported on a range of roles played by CHWs in HIV care, including education and health promotion; HIV-specific care (HIV testing services; screening for opportunistic infections and acute illness); medication delivery; tracing persons who had defaulted from care; and support (treatment support; referral; home-based care; and psychosocial support). Many different barriers to community-based HIV care were reported and centered on the following themes: Stigma and nondisclosure; inadequate support (lack of resources, inadequate training, inadequate funding, and inadequate monitoring); and health system challenges (patients’ preference for more frequent visits and poor integration of CHWs in the wider health care system). Recommendations to mitigate these barriers included: addressing HIV-related stigma; introducing updated and relevant CHW training; strengthening the supervision of CHWs; coordinating care between the home and facilities; incorporating patient-centered mHealth approaches; and committing to the funding and resources needed for successful community-based care. In summary, CHWs are providing a variety of important community-based HIV services but face challenges with regards to training, resources, and supervision.


Ngcobo S, Scheepers S, Mbatha N, Grobler E, Rossouw T




  • Epidemiology and Determinants of Health
    • Determinants of Health
  • Determinants of Health
    • Education
    • Social support
    • Health services
    • Stigma/discrimination
  • Population(s)
    • General HIV- population
  • Prevention, Engagement and Care Cascade
    • Prevention
  • Prevention
    • Education/media campaigns
  • Health Systems
    • Financial arrangements


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