Factors that influence adherence to highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART).
Naicker, Michaela Helene.
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HIV/AIDS remains one of the most pressing challenges facing South African society. South Africa has the highest number of people living with HIV as well as the highest number of people on HIV treatment globally, yet only 37% of persons eligible for treatment have access to treatment. The advent of HAART ushered in a new era in the treatment of HIV infection. HIV infection was no longer a life threatening terminal illness, HIV/AIDS became a chronic manageable disease. The full clinical benefit of HAART can only be achieved with near perfect adherence i.e. > 95%. This means taking the medication exactly as prescribed; on time, no missed doses, every day, lifelong. No other chronic medication requires such stringent adherence rates for optimal therapeutic benefit, which may mean the choice between life and death. Achieving near perfect adherence poses a serious challenge to health service providers and persons on treatment as typical adherence rates for medication prescribed over long periods are in the 50 – 75 % range. Persons on HAART live with the additional burden of drug resistance and limited treatment options if near perfect adherence rates are not achieved. The purpose of this qualitative study was to explore the factors that influence adherence to HAART. These factors may be related to the person, the health care team and system, the treatment regimen, the social and economic environment or to the effects of HIV disease. Factors may either negatively or positively influence a person’s ability to adhere optimally to their prescribed treatment. A small sample of thirteen participants were purposefully selected for this study. Data was collected using in-depth interviews which were tape recorded and transcribed for thematic analysis. The value of this study is that it may assist health care providers, persons on treatment and the health care system to better comprehend the challenges of lifelong optimal adherence to HAART.