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Indian J Med Res. 2008 Jan;127(1):28-36.

Adherence to antiretroviral therapy & its determinants amongst HIV patients in India.

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Horizons/Population Council, New Delhi, India.



Very high levels of adherence are required for ART to be effective. There is limited information available from India on adherence to ART and its predictors. We carried out this study to examine adherence levels and to explore the factors associated with adherence among PLHA receiving ART in India.


Using a cross-sectional study design 310 HIV+ patients receiving ART (252 paying out-of-pocket; 58 free via employee-insurance programme) were interviewed from Pune and Delhi health facilities, using a semi-structural questionnaire.


The median age for patients was 36 yr. The median time from diagnosis of HIV-infection was 34.5 months, median time on ART was 16 months and median CD4 cell count at start of ART was 110 cells/microl. 98 per cent of the respondents were using a non protease inhibitor (PI) treatment regimen. Mean 4-day adherence was 93 per cent. Adherence was lower over longer periods of recall: 20 per cent reported missed does over the past 7 days; 33 per cent reported ever missing a full day's medications and 16 per cent had a treatment interruption of more than 7-days at least once. On univariate analysis less than university education, being unemployed, obtaining free treatment, severe depression, baseline CD4 count>200/microl, hospitalization >2 times, having moderate to severe side-effects and taking 4 or more medicines were associated with lower adherence (<90%). However, only obtaining free treatment (adjusted OR, 4.05, 95% CI 1.42-11.54, P=0.009) and severe depression (adjusted OR 4.48, 95% CI 1.64-12.27, P=0.003) were associated with lower adherence in multivariate analysis.


Although the overall adherence was high, lower levels of adherence were documented among patients receiving free ART. Provision of free treatment without adequate patient preparation and adherence support may compromise the success of ART scale up programmes. Early diagnosis and management of depression need special focus.

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