People with HIV Need Family Support During Treatment

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 John Smith, therapist in Bellingham, Washington. All Rights Reserved. Permission to publish granted to

The preceding article was solely written by the author named above. Any views and opinions expressed are not necessarily shared by Questions or concerns about the preceding article can be directed to the author or posted as a comment below.

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  • dakota blu

    dakota blu

    October 26th, 2011 at 2:18 PM

    Many individuals with HIV feel totally alone and abandoned by friends and family when the going gets tough, and that is the most important time for them to be getting their meds and treatments! There are so many services available today for HIV patients but there has to be more of an effort to get them to these appointments so that they can extend both the longevity and quality of their lives with HIV, as this is VERY possible with today’s advances and medicines.

  • kelly


    October 26th, 2011 at 9:13 PM

    I can only imagine their plight…not having someone by you when you even have a tooth ache can seem so bad, it would be a nightmare to face an often life-changing challenge all alone…!

  • HH


    October 27th, 2011 at 11:51 AM

    The prejudice that exists in people’s minds and the general unhelpful attitude will only make an individual with HIV feel like he is all alone in this world and that there is no one who will stand by him. This feeling is often more dangerous than the disorder itself and can eat away the individual from within!

    So family support at a time like this can be a real boon and will eventually help the individual at least through moral support if not anything else.

  • Dorothy Michelle Burke

    Dorothy Michelle Burke

    October 28th, 2011 at 8:14 PM

    So the problem of non-compliance with treatment regimes boils down to not having a ride? That’s easily resolved. The clinics could organize a shuttle service to pick up and drop off patients who lack transportation for whatever reason. If they don’t want to be picked up at home they could designate where within the bus route. That would literally be a lifesaver.

  • orlando


    October 29th, 2011 at 6:32 AM

    Are there seriously that many families still who will not support their loved ones who are HIV positive?
    I thought that those narrow minded feelings died long ago but I guess I was wrong.

  • Josh Summers

    Josh Summers

    October 29th, 2011 at 11:27 AM

    @Dorothy Michelle Burke: That’s a good idea. It wouldn’t just save lives either. It would save the clinics from wasting staff resources and appointment slots. How much does it cost a hospital or clinic in monetary terms to have their staff twiddling their thumbs for a third of scheduled appointment times I wonder? A mini-bus and driver would be much cheaper, I’m sure.

  • Vicky C.

    Vicky C.

    October 29th, 2011 at 3:29 PM

    @Dorothy and Josh: Sometimes the simplest ideas make the most sense the more you think about them. There’s definitely cost savings there as well as time.

    And there’s also the human cost to be considered. How many other HIV patients’ lives would be saved because they didn’t have to wait so long to be seen too? Every slot missed means an appointment that has to be rescheduled, clogging up the timetables for longer than need be and pushing patients further and further down the waiting list.

  • Benita Sullivan

    Benita Sullivan

    October 29th, 2011 at 4:28 PM

    I cannot imagine not supporting a member of my family primarily because of the type of illness they have. Blood is thicker than water! Don’t they know the person has to already be scared out of their minds with such a devastating diagnosis? That’s tragic on so many levels.

  • Harry Booker

    Harry Booker

    October 29th, 2011 at 11:52 PM

    The stigma of HIV unfortunately isn’t going away easily. It’s wrong that a cancer diagnosis for example will elicit more compassion and offers of support than one of HIV/Aids from some ignorant people. Both are life-threatening and very hard to deal with physically and emotionally.

    There should be no lines drawn in the sand about where compassion begins and ends. With true compassion, there’s not.

  • Brandi Navarro

    Brandi Navarro

    October 31st, 2011 at 12:05 AM

    HIV and AIDS are both debilitating illnesses with huge amounts of stigma attached to them. To the majority it’s associated with unsafe sex, having sex with cheap hookers, and/or doing drugs. It’s not a disease that you catch because you were in the area and the virus is airborne-it’s inflicted.

    They need all the support they can get.

  • Ursula


    October 31st, 2011 at 4:22 AM

    This is one of those instances where you can see the sadness that faces the patients. Not only do they know the death sentence that being HIV positive gives them but they also feel the stinging loss of their families who have left them behind. Really, no matter what kind of illness faced a frined or family member of mine I can’t imagine letting them go through that on their own.

  • Russ Hart

    Russ Hart

    November 5th, 2011 at 3:21 AM

    If I hear about a guy or girl ending up with some STD, I start wondering how much attention they paid to what their brain was saying to them instead of their groin that night. Avoiding STD’s is 90% commonsense, 10% abstinence. Steer clear of one-night stands especially and use a condom, or insist he does!

  • l.a.c.


    November 5th, 2011 at 2:47 PM

    How many of these STD’s are caught by being misinformed? My daughter who is 17 told me confidently that you can’t get pregnant or get an STD your first time. For her own good, I grounded her for a month and taught her the facts of life from scratch during that period while making sure she’s keeping both legs in one stocking. Hopefully for another decade. A mom can dream…

  • P. Brownlee

    P. Brownlee

    November 5th, 2011 at 3:42 PM

    “One reason cited for missing appointments was lack of family support. “

    Oh I’m sorry, when I first read that sentence I thought it said “I’m not bothering with treatment and I’m going to blame my family instead of blaming myself for being irresponsible and not practicing safe sex”.

    Now the second part, where it’s young people who can’t afford a car, is a much more reasonable excuse.

    However, the fact you can’t tell many you have an STD without them thinking badly of you means the problem only gets worse. Educate the masses and change will come.

  • Lila Waters

    Lila Waters

    November 5th, 2011 at 3:58 PM

    @Harry–You have to understand where the stigma attached to HIV/AIDS can come from. Nobody just “catches” HIV or AIDS unless their mothers had it. You get it from unprotected sex and using someone else’s needles if you’re doing drugs. Even you would keep your distance from an individual who leads such an unclean lifestyle, wouldn’t you?

    You see, there has to be an exchange of body fluids to transmit it. It is not infectious, so you can’t catch it. It’s also associated in many people’s minds incorrectly as being a disease only the gay community need face. Few know the facts nor want to, sadly.

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