UGM University Students Invent HIV/ AIDS Therapy Module

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Isma Syafira Pratama, Rahardian Rizal Akmal, and Susnanda Virginia Yosian find that ARVA-CEA program can decrease mortality rate of HIV/AIDS. (photo: UGM Doc,)

IO, Yogyakarta – The numberof Indonesian HIV/AIDS patients is increasing every year, with the most recent estimate of people living with HIV/AIDS (PWHA) in Indonesia at 242,699. As of this writing no drug or a curative treatment for healing or terminating the HIV virus has yet been found. The only way to treat sufferers is to supress the viral load in the body through antiretroviral treatment (ARV).  

While ARV therapy works to halt the spread of the condition, it faces challenges in patient compliance regarding consumption of medicine and health-related behaviour of PWHA. Compliance in consuming medication will determine whether or not PWHA look for treatment, an important factor for the patients and the success of any HIV/AIDS treatment program.

In relation to those challenges, a group of students from Gajah Mada University has innovated a program to enhance the compliance of ARV treatment for PWHA: they are Isma Syafira Pratama from the Faculty of Medicine, Public Health, and Nursing, Susnanda Virginia Yosian and Rahardian Rizal Akmal from the Faculty of Psychology. The program known as ARVA-CEA is a therapy which increases the patients’ participation of taking their ARV medicine which focuses on increasing three psychological aspects: self-acceptance, compassion, and self-efficacy.

“The three psychological aspects will increase compliance with treatment in PWHA,” said Isma in a press release on Thursday (11/7/2019).

ARV faces many obstacles from external factors, such as caregiver and family support, availability of medicine, and others. “Our innovation in this research was done through emphasizing internal factors in PWHA, in increasing treatment compliance when using ARV,” she said.

The product of research, Isma together with her colleagues created, is an ARVA-CEA module consisting of mindfulness therapy or an increase in quality of self-awareness, alongside an inspirational video by a role model. “This module is used by psychologists and other practitioners as a guidebook in administering the therapy to PWHA,” she said.

This form of ARVA-CEA therapy is carried out in a total of four meetings. The first meeting consists of psych education where the PWHA is given material on mindfulness and breathing exercises. In the second meeting, participants are taught to recognize awareness such as awareness of breathing, thoughts, and body sensations through meditation. “The third meeting consists of teaching self-love, which helps PWHA accept their condition, love themselves and others through ‘compassion meditation’.”

In the final meeting, participants are given an inspirational video where PWHA who were highly compliant in the ARV treatment went on to have successful lives. After participants are taught compassionate meditation, PWHA are also asked to practice the meditation on their own, where they will keep track in a journal,” she said.

Isma stated that their innovation was in line with the government three-zeroes programme created by the Ministry of Health, zero new HIV infections, zero AIDS-related deaths, and zero discrimination. Isma and her colleagues hope that the ARVA-CEA program can help the government in their fight against HIV/AIDS in Indonesia and help reduce the number of HIV/AIDS-related cases. (est)