Background: Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic has a significant influence on the access to healthcare services. This study aimed to understand the views and experiences of people living with HIV (PLHIV) about barriers to their access to antiretroviral therapy (ART) service in Belu district, Indonesia, during the COVID-19 pandemic. Methods: This qualitative inquiry employed in-depth interviews to collect data from 21 participants who were recruited using a snowball sampling technique. Data analysis was guided by a thematic framework analysis. Results: The findings showed that fear of contracting COVID-19 was a barrier that impeded participants’ access to ART service. Such fear was influenced by their awareness of their vulnerability to the infection, the possibility of unavoidable physical contact in public transport during a travelling to HIV clinic and the widespread COVID-19 infection in healthcare facilities. Lockdowns, COVID-19 restrictions and lack of information about the provision of ART service during the pandemic were also barriers that impeded their access to the service. Other barriers included the mandatory regulation for travellers to provide their COVID-19 vaccine certificate, financial difficulty, and long-distance travel to the HIV clinic. Conclusions: The findings indicate the need for dissemination of information about the provision of ART service during the pandemic and the benefits of COVID-19 vaccination for the health of PLHIV. The findings also indicate the need for new strategies to bring ART service closer to PLHIV during the pandemic such as a community-based delivery system. Future large-scale studies exploring views and experiences of PLHIV about barriers to their access to ART service during the COVID-19 pandemic and new intervention strategies are recommended.
- Antiretroviral therapy
- People living with HIV