Author(s): Rao D, Kekwaletswe TC, Hosek S, Martinez J, Rodriguez F, Rao D, Kekwaletswe TC, Hosek S, Martinez J, Rodriguez F
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Abstract Youth adherence to highly active anti-retroviral therapy (HAART) is poor, and little research exists that identifies the reasons youth have difficulty adhering to medications. Given that complete adherence is necessary for favourable health outcomes, it is essential to examine the obstacles youth face in adhering to HAART. The present investigation sought to identify these barriers and to systematically examine the experiences and attitudes youth have towards medications. Twenty-five adolescents and young adults presenting to a public primary care facility for treatment of HIV infection were asked to participate in focus groups which explored their attitudes and experiences around medication adherence. Participants provided richly detailed descriptions of the challenges of managing HIV stigma and their efforts to hide their status from friends, family, doctors, and even themselves. Fifty percent of respondents indicated that they skipped doses because they feared family or friends would discover their status. These results suggest that HIV stigma impacts treatment for youth on several levels, from the accuracy of communication with medical providers to medication adherence, subsequent health outcomes, and the emergence of treatment resistant strains.
This article was published in AIDS Care
and referenced in Journal of AIDS & Clinical Research