HIV-Infected Adolescents Have Low Adherence to Antiretroviral Therapy: A Cross-Sectional Study in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
Introduction: For antiretroviral therapy (ART) to work effectively, adherence is very crucial. However, most studies done on ART adherence are either on children or on adults. There is limited information on the level of adherence among adolescents.
Methods: Using a cross-sectional study design, we interviewed 273 HIV-infected adolescents receiving ART from three hospitals in Addis Ababa. We used a structured questionnaire to measure adherence levels using patient self-reports. Bivariate and multivariate methods were used for analysis.
Results: We interviewed 273 adolescents aged 13 to 19 years, and 144 (52.7%) of the participants were girls. Their mean age was 15.4 years (SD± 1.75). The self-reported adherence rate of the respondents was 79.1% (216/273). On bivariate analysis, variables like WHO clinical stage, being on Cotrimoxazole Prophylactic Therapy (CPT), marital and living status of the parent, whether parent was on ART or not and having special instructions for ART medications were associated with optimum adherence. However of those, only WHO stage IV (adjusted OR, 12.874 95% CI, 2.079-79.706), being on CPT (adjusted OR, 0.339 95% CI, 0.124-0.97) and adolescents with widowed parent (adjusted OR, 0.087 with 95% CI, 0.021-0.359) were found to be significantly associated with optimum ART adherence.
Conclusion: The level of self-reported ART adherence among HIV-infected adolescents at the three hospitals was below the recommended threshold. Though earlier presentation of adolescents to care should be encouraged, more targeted adherence support should be planned for those who present at an early stage of their illness.