Factors influencing antiretroviral compliance in a small group of children between eight and twelve years of age.
The HIV/AIDS pandemic has implications at every level of social functioning. It affects individuals, families, communities and organisations. The burden of caring for those exposed, affected and infected is vast, but one of the most significant developments which have the potential to reduce disease burden is antiretroviral therapy. Antiretroviral therapy (ART) is complex and difficult to administer, and requires a learning process which is mediated through a number of means. Vygotskian theory was utilised to better understand the process of adherence through mediated learning, and as a framework for explaining compliance. In this study, mediated learning occurs both in the context of the clinic staff and the clinic attendees, and the caregivers and the child. Therefore Vygotsky‟s theory offers useful insight into this process. This qualitative study aimed to research the factors which contribute to ART adherence in a small sample of HIV positive children who are attending a local clinic. Eight child-caregiver dyads were interviewed, and drawings utilised to better understand child and caregiver factors which contribute to compliance. There were a number of psychosocial factors identified which contribute to compliance, or lack thereof, including social support, stigma, medication fatigue, disclosure, access difficulties, psychoeducation, and motivation. A number of qualitative differences were also identified between children who knew their HIV status and those who did not. These differences emerged primarily through the analysis of the child participants‟ drawings and there appeared to be a number of inter- and intrapersonal benefits to disclosure. The factors identified in this study, if better understood, can inform interventions to improve compliance on ART.