Journal of Contemporary Psychotherapy

, Volume 47, Issue 4, pp 223–232 | Cite as

Metacognitive Interpersonal Therapy Improves Adherence to Antiretroviral Therapies in a Man with a Severe Personality Disorder: A Case Report

  • Sonia A. Sofia
  • Paul H. Lysaker
  • Giancarlo Dimaggio
Original Paper


Treatment adherence by patients with HIV ensures they gain the full benefit of antiretroviral medications and extend their lives. One problem which may contribute to poor adherence is deficits in metacognition or the capacity to make sense of mental states. In particular, persons who struggle to notice and think about their thoughts and feelings may be less able to direct their own recovery by taking advantage of effective treatments. This raises the possibility that treatments which lead to improved metacognitive function may enhance treatment adherence. We describe the case of a man in an advanced stage of AIDS with Kaposi’s sarcoma. The patient was treated with Metacognitive Interpersonal Therapy combined with psychoeducation about pharmacological treatment for HIV. Primary medical outcomes were suppression of viral load, increase of CD4 count and control of AIDS related conditions such as Kaposi’s sarcoma. The primary psychological outcome was reduction of personality disorders criteria. The patient was able to understand what led him to discontinue medication and then later regain full adherence. He achieved suppression of viral load and restore of CD4 count. As regard severity of personality disorder, he achieved reliable change. Interventions such as Metacognitive Interpersonal Therapy may assist patients with HIV to gain the metacognitive capacities to make sense of their medical and psychological challenges and adhere to antiretroviral therapies leading to enhanced levels of health. Future studies are needed to explore these findings in larger controlled studies.


Metacognitive interpersonal therapy Therapy adherence HIV Personality disorders 


Author Contributions

All authors have made substantial contributions to conception and design of the study. All authors have been involved in drafting the manuscript and revising it critically for important intellectual content. All authors read and approved the final manuscript. S.S. has carried out patient psychotherapy. G.D. has carried out the supervision of the psychotherapy.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of interests

The authors declare that they have no competing interests.

Informed Consent

Written informed consent was obtained from the patient for publication of this case report. A copy of the written consent is available for review by the Editor of this journal.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Sonia A. Sofia
    • 1
  • Paul H. Lysaker
    • 2
    • 3
  • Giancarlo Dimaggio
    • 4
  1. 1.Department of Clinical and Molecular Biomedicine, Division of Infectious DiseasesUniversity of CataniaCataniaItaly
  2. 2.Richard L Roudebush VA Medical CenterIndianpolisUSA
  3. 3.Department of PsychiatryIndiana University School of MedicineIndianpolisUSA
  4. 4.Centro di Terapia Metacognitiva InterpersonaleRomeItaly

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