Equity in adherence to antiretroviral therapy among economically vulnerable adolescents living with HIV in Uganda

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Studies from sub-Saharan Africa indicate that children made vulnerable by poverty have been disproportionately affected by HIV with many exposed via mother-to-child transmission. For youth living with HIV, adherence to life-saving treatment regimens are likely to be affected by the complex set of economic and social circumstances that challenge their families and also exacerbate health problems. Using baseline data from the National Institute of Child and Human Development (NICHD) funded Suubi+Adherence study, we examined the extent to which individual and composite measures of equity predict self-reported adherence among Ugandan adolescents aged 10–16 (n = 702) living with HIV. Results showed that greater asset ownership, specifically familial possession of seven or more tangible assets, was associated with greater odds of self-reported adherence (OR 1.69, 95% CI: 1.00–2.85). Our analyses also indicated that distance to the nearest health clinic impacts youth’s adherence to an ARV regimen. Youth who reported living nearest to a clinic were significantly more likely to report optimal adherence (OR 1.49, 95% CI: 0.92–2.40). Moreover, applying the composite equity scores, we found that adolescents with greater economic advantage in ownership of household assets, financial savings, and caregiver employment had higher odds of adherence by a factor of 1.70 (95% CI: 1.07–2.70). These findings suggest that interventions addressing economic and social inequities may be beneficial to increase antiretroviral therapy (ART) uptake among economically vulnerable youth, especially in sub-Saharan Africa. This is one of the first studies to address the question of equity in adherence to ART among economically vulnerable youth with HIV.




Bermudez, L. G., Jennings, L., Ssewamala, F. M., Nabunya, P., Mellins, C., & McKay, M. (2016). Equity in adherence to antiretroviral therapy among economically vulnerable adolescents living with HIV in Uganda. AIDS Care - Psychological and Socio-Medical Aspects of AIDS/HIV, 28, 83–91. https://doi.org/10.1080/09540121.2016.1176681

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