Factors Supporting and Inhibiting Adherence to HIV Medication Regimen in Women: A Qualitative Analysis of Patient Interviews

Oluwakemi Fagbami*, 1, Adetokunbo Oluwasanjo1, Carrie Fitzpatrick2, Rebecca Fairchild1, Ann Shin1, Anthony Donato1
1 Reading Health System, 6th Avenue and Spruce Street, West Reading, Pennsylvania, 19611, USA
2 Alvernia University, 400 St Bernadine Street, Reading, PA 19607, USA

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© Fagbami et al.; Licensee Bentham Open.

open-access license: This is an open access article licensed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial License ( which permits unrestricted, non-commercial use, distribution and reproduction in any medium, provided the work is properly cited.

* Address correspondence to this author at the Reading Health System, 6th Avenue and Spruce Street, West Reading, Pennsylvania, 19611, USA; Tel: 484 345 7659; E-mail:


Adherence to antiretroviral therapy reduces morbidity and mortality; however rates of non-adherence are variable among women for unclear reasons. This study was a single-center qualitative analysis of interviews with 18 female HIV-positive non-adherent patients (defined by virologic failure) to explore psychosocial factors impacting adherence. Factors identified were categorized as promoting, inhibiting or having no effect on adherence. Three themes, characterized as social factors, illness factors and other societal pressures, were identified. Medical systems support, family support and compliance for children were most commonly identified as promoting adherence, while psychiatric comorbidities, lack of medical systems support and side effects were identified most often as inhibitors of adherence. While stigma was frequently identified, it was not seen as a barrier to adherence. Enhancing relationships between patients and their providers as well as their community support systems are critical avenues to pursue in improving compliance. Interventions to promote compliance are important avenues of future research.

Keywords: Adherence, female, HAART, HIV, medication compliance, qualitative research.