Influences on Adherence to Antiretroviral Therapy (ART) in Early-Stage HIV Disease: Qualitative Study from Uganda and South Africa

the META Study Team

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Realization of optimal treatment and prevention benefits in the era of universal antiretroviral therapy (ART) and “U=U” (undetectable = untransmittable) requires high adherence at all stages of HIV disease. This article draws upon qualitative interview data to characterize two types of influences on ART adherence for 100 Ugandans and South Africans initiating ART during early-stage HIV infection. Positive influences are: (a) behavioral strategies supporting adherence; (b) preserving health through adherence; (c) support from others; and (d) motivating effect of adherence monitoring. “De-stabilizing experiences” (mobility, loss, pregnancy) as barriers are posited to impact adherence indirectly through intervening consequences (e.g. exacerbation of poverty). Positive influences overlap substantially with adherence facilitators described for later-stage adherers in previous research. Adherence support strategies and interventions effective for persons initiating ART later in HIV disease are likely also to be helpful to individuals beginning treatment immediately upon confirmation of infection. De-stabilizing experiences merit additional investigation across varying populations.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalAIDS and Behavior
StateAccepted/In press - Jan 1 2020



  • ART adherence
  • Early HIV disease
  • Qualitative study
  • S. Africa
  • Uganda

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Infectious Diseases

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