Treatment Advocacy Increases Adherence to HIV Treatment

Maintaining proper medical treatment and adhering to a specialized protocol is essential for people who live with AIDS/HIV (PLWH). According to many studies, barely half of individuals diagnosed with AIDS/HIV get treatment in the first several months after diagnosis. Of those who do, less than 65% actually adhere to their prescribed treatment. People who are infected with AIDS/HIV and left untreated increase the health risks to themselves and pose a potential health threat to the community at large. Treatment advocacy (TA) is a program that has been utilized by AIDS organizations for decades and has shown positive outcomes in several communities. The focus of TA is to help individuals with AIDS/HIV successfully work through the confusing medical maze they are confronted with and to educate them about the illness and treatment options. People who enroll in TA are also provided with other services they may require that address a broad range of issues, such as psychological needs, housing needs, nutritional guidance, career counseling, substance dependency, and job placement.

There are few studies that have attempted to validate the effectiveness of TA; therefore, Laura M. Bogart, Ph.D., of the Division of General Pediatrics at Children’s Hospital Boston, led a study evaluating how well TA increased treatment adherence in 121 individuals with AIDS/HIV, 36 of whom enrolled in TA; the remainder served as controls. The participants were part of the AIDS Project Los Angeles and were of diverse cultural backgrounds and ethnicities. After analyzing the treatment maintenance, Bogart found that the participants in TA had higher levels of medication adherence and were much more likely to use the social service resources available to them. Specifically, the participants in TA were more likely to be referred to mental health services that could positively influence their treatment outcome. In addition, the social needs of housing, career counseling, and nutritional planning were accessed more by the TA participants than the non-TA participants. These factors all increase one’s well-being, which is a predictor of positive treatment outcome. Bogart believes that these results demonstrate the importance of expanding TA programs to the AIDS/HIV community. She said, “In sum, our results suggest that TA is a promising community-based intervention to support adherence to treatment.”

Reference:
Bogart, L. M., Wagner, G. J., Muttchler, M. C., Risley, B., McDavitt, B. W., McKay, T., et al. (2012). Community HIV treatment advocacy programs may support treatment adherence. AIDS Education & Prevention 24.1, 1-14.

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  • Bozzie

    Bozzie

    April 6th, 2012 at 5:53 AM

    If this meant more years to live then I do not understand the reluctance for recently diagnosed HIV positive patients. I know that there can still be a stigma attached to this diagnosis, but if it means more time to live and more time to find a cure then sign me up for it!

  • tiffany

    tiffany

    April 6th, 2012 at 11:42 AM

    What about the money to go through this treatment? I thought the drug regimens for treating HIV and AIDS was notoriously expensive, and not everyone is privy to health insurance that will allow them to follow this treatment path for themselves. I am sure that there are some cities where treatment is comped and provided but in many places you are not going to find this at all. What are those people supposed to do who would, if they had the resources, take better care of themselves, but the lack of money or insurance coverage is holding them back? That is not ignoring the health problems, but someotimes it must feel like they are losing the battle because they simply do not have the means to obtain the necessary ammunition to try to fight it.

  • A.R

    A.R

    April 7th, 2012 at 2:11 AM

    SO why do one third of the people drop out of treatment? Is it feelings of hopelessness? This needs to be found out because if it is, then it could be a bigger problem than it seems. Imagine those distraught people turning to things like suicide!

  • Melissa

    Melissa

    April 7th, 2012 at 4:55 AM

    perfect example of the fact that it takes a village in order for us to thrive and survive as a society

  • Jameson

    Jameson

    April 9th, 2012 at 4:33 AM

    When you nurture and tale care of one part of you, then I think that very naturally you come to take care of the other parts of you as well.

    These are patients who have started to take care of their physical health by adhering to their prescribed medical treatment.

    And then look at what happens. Not only will they start to feel better by taking their medications, they also see the benefit of seeking treatment and help in other areas of their lives.

    They use the many resources that are avilable to them. Counseling, job help, housing issues, all of these thing become not quite so dauting when it begins to feel that the other pieces of the puzzle are starting to fall into place too.

    Sometimes that is just what we need, to realize that all of these things, no matter how separate they may feel, really are connected to one another, and that positve work in one area in life can lead to a more positive outcome in other areas too.

  • Jordan arnold

    Jordan arnold

    April 9th, 2012 at 3:31 PM

    I am a little surprised to learn that we are having such a hard time getting AIDS patients to adhere to their treatment plans. Don’t they want to prolong their lives for as long as possible? Life is too precious to throw away on being slack with your medications. I understand that this has to be overwhelming and facing death is not something that I think a whole lot of people are going to look forward to. But what happens to that fight, that determination and will to live? I hope to be a fighter and not a quitter.

  • midwayresearch

    midwayresearch

    June 21st, 2012 at 2:42 AM

    HIV is the virus that causes acquired immune deficiency syndrome or AIDS,HIV primarily attacks the immune system.

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