Non-adherence to highly active antiretroviral therapy in children attending HIV treatment clinic at harare Children's Hospital, Zimbabwe

  • S Chimhuya
  • KJ Nathoo
  • S Rusakaniko


Background: Non-adherence reduces the effectiveness of antiretroviral therapy. Knowledge of factors associated with non-adherence would assist clinicians and program planners to design and implement interventions to improve adherence and therefore treatment outcomes.

Objective: To determine the prevalence and factors associated with non-adherence to Highly Active Antiretroviral Therapy (HAART) in children less than 10 years of age.

Methods: A cross-sectional study of 216 caregivers and children less than 10 years of age who had received HAART for at least 60 days prior to this study. Non-adherence was defined as taking less than 95% of prescribed doses. Caregiver self-reports of missed doses in the 30 days preceding a clinic visit, and clinic based pill counts were used to determine non-adherence.

Results:Of the 228 children selected, 216 (94.7%) study participants were assessed using the self-report method. Pill count assessment was done on only 96 (44%) participants who produced unused pills on their review dates. Caregiver self-reports (n=216) estimated the prevalence of non-adherence to be 7.4% (95%: CI 3.90 10.90) whereas clinic-based pill counts (n=96) yielded a higher estimate of 18.8% (95% CI 10.94 26.56). In a regression analysis based on pill count, two or fewer siblings (OR=6.26, 95% CI 1.64-23.95) or adults (OR=3.73, 95% CI: 1.01-13.78) in the household were independently associated with non-adherence to HAART. Of the 16 participants who were non adherent by pill count the reasons for missing doses were, attending gatherings (funeral, church), caregiver forgetting to give dose, medication running out, not understanding dosing instructions, concurrently taking other medicines such as anti tuberculosis drugs and cotrimoxazole, child visiting relatives during school vacation, and inconsistent supply of drugs in the hospital.

Conclusion: The prevalence of non adherence using pill count method was high at this clinic. Caregiver reports of missed doses underestimated the prevalence of non-adherence to HAART. Having fewer siblings or adults in the household to assist with dosing are strongly associated with non-adherence to HAART in this population of children.



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eISSN: 0008-9176