The government of India launched the free anti-retroviral therapy (ART) initiative in 2004 and the programme has since scaled up expansion in a phased manner. Programme authorities acknowledge problems in scale-up, yet discussions have been restricted to operational constraints, with little consideration for how local health system responses to HIV/AIDS influence the delivery of ART. This paper draws on the perspectives of key informants and people living with HIV (PLHIV) to compare delivery of ART in two ART centres in the States of Maharashtra and Andhra Pradesh at two distinct points of time. In 2005, data were collected through key informant interviews (KIIs) using interview guides and a survey of PLHIV using a semi-structured interview schedule. Differences were observed in the functioning and resources of the two centres, indicating different levels of preparedness which in turn influenced PLHIV's pathways in accessing ART. We examine these differences in the light of programme leadership, ownership and the roles of public, private and non-governmental organisation actors in HIV care. KIIs conducted during a follow-up visit in 2009 focused on changes in ART delivery. Many operational problems had been resolved; however, new challenges were emerging as a result of the increased patient load. An understanding of how ART programmes evolve within local health systems has bearing on future developments of the ART programme and must include a consideration of the wider socio-political environment within which HIV programmes are embedded.
AIDS Care (2010) 22 (Suppl. 1) 85-92 [DOI: 10.1080/09540121003758531]