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Nurs Health Sci. 2010 Dec;12(4):464-9. doi: 10.1111/j.1442-2018.2010.00560.x. Epub 2010 Nov 17.

HIV-infected patients' adherence to highly active antiretroviral therapy: a phenomenological study.

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Department of Nursing, Gonabad University of Medical Sciences, Gonabad, Iran.


Adherence to the treatment regimen is essential to the success of highly active antiretroviral therapy for patients who are infected with HIV. The evidence suggests that poor adherence to antiretroviral drug therapy is a major problem that has the potential to diminish effective viral suppression, promote viral resistance, and place patients at risk for hospitalization, opportunistic infections, and an increased risk of HIV transmission. The primary aim of this study was to understand patients' experiences regarding their adherence to antiretroviral drug therapy. Thus, 19 participants were recruited for in-depth interviews regarding their adherence to drug regimens. All the interviews were transcribed verbatim and analyzed by using Benner's phenomenological analysis approach. Four main themes emerged from the data: (i) choosing to live and the decision to start taking medications; (ii) strategies for adhering to the regimen and managing the side-effects; (iii) relationships with healthcare providers; and (iv) advantages of the medications as a motivator to continue one's adherence to the regimen. Studying and understanding the experiences of patients can provide new insights and strategies in order to enhance patients' adherence to highly active antiretroviral therapy.

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