Compliance to a treatment regimen is an important step to ensure that clients with HIV maintain their current level of health. But too often, these clients do not follow through with their medical appointments. “Non-adherence to medical regimens is a critical threat to HIV-infected individuals. Persons living with HIV/AIDS must adhere to their outpatient medical appointments to benefit from continually improving HIV care regimens,” said Lina Bofill of the Department of Epidemiology and Public Health at the University of Miami. Some people living with HIV fear the stigma associated with the disease and may not readily reveal their health status to friends, coworkers or family members, making treatment compliance difficult. Others may not have the financial resources to receive the treatment they need. Bofill said, “The primary purpose of the present study was to identify individual and psychosocial characteristics associated with HIV-related medical appointment non-attendance.”
For her study, Bofill and her colleagues enlisted 178 adult HIV positive clients from a clinic at Jackson Memorial Hospital, and reviewed how many appointments were missed over one year. Bofill said, “Overall, 27.9% of scheduled appointments were missed during the study period.” One reason cited for missing appointments was lack of family support. For younger participants, having to rely on others for transportation requires disclosure. Many of the participants reported limited support structures, leaving them few places to turn in time of emotional need. Not having people to share the psychological impact of HIV treatment with may be why so many people facing the illness choose not to face it at all, rather than face it alone. Receiving proper mental and physical health treatment for HIV/AIDS is vitally important to maintaining a good quality of life. Bofill and her colleagues hope that these results will help provide insight into some of the reasons why this segment of the population has difficulty adhering to treatment. She added, “These findings support those of others and highlight targeted intervention efforts to reduce appointment non-attendance among persons living with HIV/AIDS.”
Bofill, Lina, Drenna Waldrop-Valverde, Lisa Metsch, Margaret Pereyra, and Michael A. Kolber. “Demographic and Psychosocial Factors Associated with Appointment Attendance among HIV-positive Outpatients.” AIDS Care 23.10 (2011): 1219-225. Print.
© Copyright 2011 by By Noah Rubinstein, LMFT, LMHC, therapist in Olympia, Washington. All Rights Reserved. Permission to publish granted to GoodTherapy.org.
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