The Uses of Self and Space: Health Providers' Approaches to Engaging Patients into the HIV Care Continuum

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In the context of HIV prevention, the provider-patient relationship has been found to profoundly impact HIV screening, patient initiation into HIV care, and adherence to medication following an HIV diagnosis. Given the importance of the provider-patient relationship, insight into provider approaches to cultivate such relationships is essential. Such insight could highlight considerations for provider engagement with patients that can address the current challenges in HIV prevention and treatment. This qualitative descriptive study sought to describe current health providers' approaches to engage patients into the HIV care continuum (HCC). Findings from the content and thematic analysis indicated that health providers (N = 22) used various approaches to engage patients/clients into HIV screening, and subsequent HIV care. Approaches were represented by an interpersonal process and a thematic analysis revealed the nuances in the approaches that manifested in the following themes: uses of self, normalizing disease, and engaging couples. This study demonstrated the importance for health providers to be aware of the specific context of patient's vulnerability to HIV infection and barriers to care. Self-awareness and the capability to self-reflect on one's personal practice also helped to ensure engagement of those vulnerable to infection or infected with HIV into the HCC.

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