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Eur J Clin Microbiol Infect Dis. 2010 Aug;29(8):947-53. doi: 10.1007/s10096-010-0949-4. Epub 2010 May 14.

Factors associated with poor adherence to anti-retroviral therapy in patients attending a rural health centre in South Africa.

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Department of Medical Microbiology, Faculty of Health Sciences, Walter Sisulu University, Mthatha, ECP, South Africa.


South Africa has a very high HIV disease burden and proper patient adherence to anti-retroviral therapy (ART) is crucial in achieving optimal treatment outcomes. Factors influencing adherence include demographic and psychosocial factors, medication-related issues and other patient-related matters. This study was carried out in order to determine factors associated with poor compliance to anti-retroviral (ARV) medications in a rural setting. This interview-based descriptive and analytical study was carried out in a health centre where 168 patients who received ARVs were interviewed with pre-structured questionnaires, which covered various important compliance-related aspects. The results showed that 37.5% of the patients were non-adherent. Amongst men, poor adherence was seen in those who were single (48.9%), with tertiary education (60%), in those who consumed alcohol regularly (47.1%) and in those who were unemployed (56.1%). Higher rates of non-adherence in women was associated with being single (36.5%) and in those who used alcohol (60.7%). Medication-related adverse effects were reported in 47% of patients, notably, neuropathy, headache, nausea, loss of memory, diarrhoea and fatigue. Common reasons for missing doses were: being away from home (57.1%), simply forgot (41.3%), side effects (50.8%) and being too busy (49.2%). Poor adherence to ART is an important concern relating to HIV management in our setting and needs to be addressed with more patient-oriented interventions.

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