Self-reported adherence to highly active antiretroviral therapy in a tertiary hospital in Nigeria

  • Ekiuwa V. Eribo
  • Omokhoa A. Adeleye
Keywords: Medication adherence; HAART, HIV; drug resistance; Nigeria;, HAART;


Background: Non-adherence to highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART) favours drug resistance and wastes resources. These have negative implications for personal and public health.

Objective: To assess adherence levels, the associated factors and its association with increase in CD4 cell count in people living with HIV (PLHIVs).

Methods: In a cross-sectional survey, systematically selected adult PLHIVs attending a tertiary hospital in Nigeria self-reported their 28-day adherence to HAART and reasons for missing doses using an interviewer-administered questionnaire. Their 6-month difference in CD4 cell count was also assessed.

Results: The participants totalled 425. Their mean age was 38.6 (SD, 10.1) years and 309 (72.7%) had secondary or tertiary education. The 28-day mean adherence level was 96.8% (SD, 7.9%) and 354 (83.3%) participants had optimal
adherence (≥ 95%). Socio-demographic characteristics, side effects and having human reminders were not associated with adherence level, but 100% adherence level since placement on HAART was positively associated with a 6-month
increase in CD4 cell count (p < 0.01; OR = 1.87, 95%CI = 1.21 – 2.89). Reasons given by 156 respondents for missing doses included being too busy, 100 (64.1%), forgetting, 85 (54.5%) and sleeping off, 42 (26.9%).

Conclusion: Mean adherence was high and the majority of participants had optimal adherence. “Never missing a dose” was associated with improved CD4 cell counts, indicating better prognosis. Socio-demographic factors, side effects and human reminders were not associated with an increase in adherence. However, as there is no evidence that adherence improvement measures are detrimental, their use is still recommended.

Keywords: Medication adherence, HAART, HIV, drug resistance, Nigeria,

Funding: None declared


Journal Identifiers

print ISSN: 0016-9560