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J Acquir Immune Defic Syndr. 2001 Sep 1;28(1):47-58.

Trust and the acceptance of and adherence to antiretroviral therapy.

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  • 1Yale University School of Medicine, New Haven, Connecticut 06510-2483, USA.



Antiretroviral therapy (ART) has resulted in reduced AIDS incidence and mortality. Socially marginalized individuals with HIV infection, particularly injection drug users (IDUs), have received less ART and derived less benefit than others. Little is known about the therapeutic process necessary to promote acceptance of and adherence to ART among marginalized HIV-infected populations. We report on the correlates of both acceptance of and adherence to ART among HIV infected prisoners, most of whom are IDUs.


Using a cross-sectional survey design within four ambulatory prison HIV clinics, 205 HIV-infected prisoners eligible for ART were recruited between March and October 1996.


Detailed interviews were conducted that included personal characteristics, health status and beliefs, and validated standardized scales measuring depression, health locus of control, social desirability and trust in physician, medical institutions and society. Acceptance and adherence were documented by self-report and validated for a subset by pharmacy review. Clinical information was obtained from standardized chart review. Adherence was defined as having taken > or = 80% of ART.


The acceptance of (80%) and adherence to (84%) ART among this group of prisoners was high. Multiple regression models demonstrated that correlates of acceptance of and adherence to ART differed. Acceptance was associated with trust in physician (8% increase for each unit increase with trust in physician scale) and trust in HIV medications (threefold reduction for those mistrustful of medication). Side effects (OR = 0.09), social isolation (OR = 0.08), and complexity of the antiretroviral regimen (OR = 0.33) were associated with decreased adherence. The prevalence of health beliefs suggesting an adverse relationship between ART and drugs of abuse was high (range 59 to 77%). Adherence did not differ among those receiving directly observed therapy (82%) or self-administration (85%).


ART can be successfully administered within a correctional setting. Trust and the therapeutic relationship between patient and physician remain central in the ART initiation process. Characteristics of the therapeutic agents and the degree of social isolation predict adherence. These results may inform the design of interventions to improve both acceptance of and adherence to ART particularly among marginalized populations who have not derived full benefit from these potent new therapies.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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