“Continual and consistent therapy is better”—this is according to a recent study conducted on HIV patients and the clinics they visited. While most can appreciate why this is so, especially when it comes to the complexities involved in antiretroviral therapy (or ART), the importance of continuity of care is even more pronounced in these cases.

Patients and clinics were followed for a period of time to analyze the quality of care given and the compliance of HIV patients. It was found that most patients who visited different clinics received care that was, at times, less than adequate. Most of the time, care was inconsistent and patient follow-through was poor. This could be seen in higher viral loads in HIV patients who visited numerous clinics when compared to those who went to just one.

Those who were more likely to frequent various clinics were younger women normally in their first year of treatment. This practice of going to different clinics could be in part due to fear of social stigma, needing to seek treatment for diseases other than HIV, or other reasons. This trend worries researchers and clinicians alike—the quality of care and overall health of those HIV patients is at stake. The results of the study are now beneficial, meaning the system can now be altered to ensure that care is continuous and consistent. Making changes in order for clinics to provide better care means less ART errors and a lessening of viral load in new patients. Patient follow-through is likely to increase when they receive a measure of consistency, especially when it comes to complicated ART regimens.

As far as social effects are concerned, researchers are eager for a change in how clinics play into HIV treatment. If patients are not receiving, taking and following up with therapies and drug treatments, the risks of complications and transmission increases. Physicians hope that by making the system more efficient, these risks can be reduced.