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Factors affecting first-month adherence to antiretroviral therapy among HIV-positive adults in South Africa

Dikokole Maqutu
Temesgen Zewotir
Delia North
Kogieleum Naidoo
Anneke Grobler


This study explores the influence of baseline factors on first-month adherence to highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART) among adults. The study design involved a review of routinely collected patient information in the CAPRISA AIDS Treatment (CAT) programme, at a rural and an urban clinic in KwaZulu-Natal Province, South Africa. The records of 688 patients enrolled in the CAT programme between June  2004 and September 2006 were analysed. Adherence was calculated from pharmacy records (pill counts) and patients were considered adherent if they had taken at least 95% of their prescribed drugs. Logistic regression was used to analyse the data and account for confounding factors. During the first month of therapy, 79% of the patients were adherent to HAART. HAART adherence was negatively associated with a higher baseline CD4 count. Women had better  adherence if they attended voluntarily testing and counselling or if they had taken an HIV test because they were unwell, while men had higher adherence if they were tested due to perceived risk of HIV infection. HAART adherence was positively associated with higher age among patients who possessed cell phones and among patients who provided a source of income in the urban setting, but not in the rural setting. Though long-term data from this cohort is required to fully evaluate the impact of non-adherence in the first month of treatment, this study identifies specific groups of patients at higher risk for whom adherence counselling should be targeted and tailored. For example, first-month HAART adherence can be improved by targeting patients initiated on treatment with a high CD4 count.

Keywords: baseline survey; CD4 count; compliance; HAART; health information; pill counts; statistical analysis

African Journal of AIDS Research 2010, 9(2): 117–124

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eISSN: 1608-5906
print ISSN: 1727-9445