Publication Type: Journal article
Year: 2022
Author(s): Janina Isabel Steinert, Yulia Shenderovich, Michael Smith, Siyanai Zhou, Elona Toska, and Lucie Cluver
Unit: AARHub
Journal: JAIDS Journal of Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndromes

Abstract: "Background:  Adolescents living with HIV exhibit lower levels of adherence to antiretroviral therapy (ART) than other age groups. Poverty is a key barrier to ART adherence. This study aims at understanding how alleviating poverty through structural and internal pathways can help increase ART adherence among adolescents. Setting:  Eastern Cape province, South Africa. Methods: One thousand forty-six adolescents living with HIV were recruited from 53 public health care facilities and interviewed at 3 data collection waves with a retention rate of 89% and a mortality rate of 3%. Data were collected by face-to-face, device-assisted interviews. Hybrid probit regressions and a structural equation path analysis were used to estimate the association between poverty reduction (increased access to basic necessities) and the pathways by which it could improve ART adherence. Results:  Self-reported ART adherence ranged from an average of 66% (n = 615) at baseline to 75% (n = 700) in the last wave. Within-person and between-person improvements in economic well-being were associated with significant increases in adolescent ART adherence. On average, adolescents with access to 3 additional basic needs experienced a 4 percentage-point increase in the probability of ART adherence. Structural pathways to improved ART adherence included participants having enough money to travel to the clinic and sufficient food to eat when taking medication. Internal pathways included improved psychological well-being and reduced internalized HIV stigma. Conclusion: Poverty reduction programs such as HIV-sensitive social protection can address structural and psychological pathways to increase ART adherence among economically disadvantaged adolescents by incentivizing demand-side interventions and the provision of quality essential services."

Citation: Steinert, J. I., Shenderovich, Y., Smith, M., Zhou, S., Toska, E., & Cluver, L. (2022). Economic wellbeing and associated mediating pathways to improved antiretroviral therapy adherence among adolescents living with HIV: A prospective cohort study in South Africa. JAIDS Journal of Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndromes, 91(4), 343-352.