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J Natl Med Assoc. 2000 February; 92(2): 55–61.
PMCID: PMC2640544

Adherence to antiviral drug regimens in HIV-infected adolescent patients engaged in care in a comprehensive adolescent and young adult clinic.


Inconsistent use of antiviral medications for the treatment of HIV may lead to the emergence of resistant strains in HIV-infected adults. Patterns of adherence with these drug regimens in adolescents remains unknown. Identifying nonadherence in HIV-infected patients to antiviral regimens and developing corrective measures could improve patient outcomes. This study was undertaken to understand adherence in HIV-infected youths engaged in care and to reduce patterns of nonadherence. A retrospective analysis of 25 charts (78%) of HIV-infected youths (n = 32, age 13 to 21 years) were consecutively reviewed from January 1993 to May 1998. Charts were reviewed for documentation of factors previously documented to be associated with adherence: housing stability, social support, prior sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) and/or pregnancy, HIV exposure category, number of clinic visits, number of pills per day, number of medications per day, knowledge of medication schedule, age, gender, race/ethnicity, health status as revealed by CD4 count and viral load, and recorded patterns of adherence to medications and clinic appointments. Thirteen of the 18 (72%) patients who were receiving antiretroviral medication were nonadherent. Sixty-seven percent of the females and 80% of the males reported missing doses. Housing instability (p = 0.031) and/or length of treatment with antiviral medications (months of treatment) (p = 0.043) were significantly correlated with nonadherence. The stability of the adolescents' living situations was the most significant correlate of medication adherence for this population of HIV-infected youth.

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