Research

Antiretroviral therapy non-adherence among HIV-positive patients presenting to an emergency department in Johannesburg, South Africa: Associations and reasons

A E Laher, G A Richards, F Paruk, W D F Venter

Abstract


Background. Suboptimal antiretroviral therapy (ART) adherence is associated with viral resistance, opportunistic infections and increased mortality.

Objectives. To determine the rates of ART non-adherence and its associations, and also the reasons for ART non-adherence, among HIV-positive patients presenting to a major central hospital emergency department (ED).

Methods. Consecutive HIV-positive patients presenting to the Charlotte Maxeke Johannesburg Academic Hospital adult ED between 7 July 2017 and 18 October 2018 were prospectively enrolled. Self-reported adherence was assessed using the AIDS Clinical Trials Group Adherence Questionnaire (ACTG-AQ).

Results. Of the 1 224 consecutive HIV-positive participants enrolled, 761 (75.2%) were on ART at the time of ED presentation. Of these, 245 (32.2%) were non-adherent as per the ACTG-AQ. Participants not yet on ART prior to ED presentation had significantly higher in-hospital mortality than participants on ART (odds ratio 1.69; 95% confidence interval 1.21 - 2.34; p=0.002). Younger age, male sex, CD4 count <100 cells/µL, lack of viral suppression, a high National Early Warning Score 2 (≥7 points) and length of hospital stay ≥7 days were significantly associated with ART non-adherence (p<0.05). Forgetfulness (13.9%) and lack of social support, depression/stress/mental illness, and lack of money for transport to collect medications (9.9% each) were the most common reasons given for ART non-adherence.

Conclusions. Of HIV-positive patients presenting to the ED, a high proportion were either not yet initiated on ART or ART non-adherent. HIV programmes should focus on HIV-positive ED attendees with the aim of identifying high-risk patients and providing adequate ART adherence support.

Authors' affiliations

A E Laher, Department of Emergency Medicine, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa

G A Richards, Department of Critical Care, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa

F Paruk, Department of Critical Care, School of Medicine, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Pretoria, South Africa

W D F Venter, Ezintsha, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa

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Keywords

HIV; Emergency department; Antiretroviral therapy; ART; Adherence; Non-adherence; CD4 cell count; HIV viral load

Cite this article

South African Medical Journal 2021;111(8):753-758. DOI:10.7196/SAMJ.2021.v111i8.15604

Article History

Date submitted: 2021-08-02
Date published: 2021-08-02

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