The purpose of this study was to assess the factors that influence ART adherence arising in rural settings in Zambia. A survey was conducted with face-to-face interviews using a semi-structured questionnaire and written informed consent was obtained at ART sites in Mumbwa District in rural Zambia. The questionnaire included items such as the socio-demographic characteristics of respondents, support for adherence, ways to remember when to take ARVs at scheduled times, and the current status of adherence. Valid responses were obtained from 518 research participants. The mean age of the respondents was 38.3 years and the average treatment period was 12.5 months. More than half of the respondents (51%) were farmers, about half (49%) did not own a watch, and 10% of them used the position of the sun to remember when to take ARVs. Sixteen percent of respondents experienced fear of stigma resulting from taking ARVs at work or home, and 10% felt pressured to share ARVs with someone. Eighty-eight percent of the participants reported that they had never missed ARVs in the past four days. Multivariable logistic regression analysis identified age (38 years old or less, odds ratio (OR) = 2.5, 95% confidence interval (CI): 1.3–4.8, p = 0.005), “remembering when to take ARVs based on the position of the sun” (OR = 3.3, 95% CI: 1.3–8.8, p = 0.016), and “feeling pressured to share ARVs with someone” (OR = 4.4, 95% CI: 1.6–12.0, p = 0.004) as independent factors for low adherence. As ART services expand to rural areas, program implementers should pay more attention to more specific factors arising in rural settings since they may differ from those in urban settings.
Keywords: antiretroviral therapy, adherence, rural setting