Common problems with antiretroviral therapy among three Swedish groups of HIV infected individuals
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The main objective of this study was to identify and compare the common problems and difficulties associated with combination antiretroviral therapy (CART) as experienced by three major groups of HIV infected individuals (homo- or bisexuals, former injecting drug users and origins of Sub-Saharan Africa) in Sweden.
Based on the results from in-depth interviews with 15 representatives from the three major groups, a questionnaire was designed for use in a problem detection study (PDS). The study was conducted with 195 HIV-positive patients residing in the major cities of Sweden.
The overall response rate was 79%. The problems identified in all three groups were negative attitudes from the public, worries about disease progression or therapy failure, medication or drug-related problems and problems in connection to pharmacy visits. A specific problem in the homo- or bisexual group was drug-related problems such as adverse effects, drug interactions and pill burden. For former injecting drug users, the specific problem was disease-related conflicts with relatives and the problem of coping with the social and psychological burden caused by the HIV infection. The African group termed the risk of exposing their medication at the pharmacy as a specific problem, as this could reveal their HIV status.
Our findings regarding problems with CART in three patient groups in Sweden may be of use to tailor pharmacy care to HIV infected individuals.
General strategies to improve adherence need to be complemented with approaches that will address the specific needs for the different patient groups affected by HIV. Further studies on group-specific interventions that promote concordance and adherence to CART will be necessary to minimize therapy failure and viral resistance.
KeywordsAdherence AIDS Antiretroviral therapy Concordance Drug-related problems Drug-use problems HIV Patient counselling Sweden
The authors thank Sveriges Farmaceutiska Sällskap for awarding a scholarship to the project and Pharmacist Lena Lagerholm for assistance. Special thanks to the staff of RFHP (the Swedish Group for HIV Positives), CONVICTUS (former injecting drug users) and OASEN (group for origins of Sub-Saharan Africa) for their invaluable support in collecting the study data. Thanks to the Pharmacist Mr and Mrs Mgbemena for reading the final stage of the manuscript.
This work was funded by the National Corporation of Swedish Pharmacies (Apoteket AB) and the Swedish Foundation for Strategic Research.
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