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JAIDS Journal of Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndromes:
doi: 10.1097/QAI.0b013e318222b5c2
Supplement Article

Adherence to Antiretroviral Treatment in HIV-Positive Patients in the Cameroon Context: Promoting the Use of Medication Reminder Methods

Roux, Perrine PhD*†‡; Kouanfack, Charles MD§; Cohen, Julien MSc*†‡; Marcellin, Fabienne MSc*†‡; Boyer, Sylvie PhD*†‡; Delaporte, Eric PhD‖; Carrieri, Patrizia PhD*†‡; Laurent, Christian PhD‖; Spire, Bruno MD, PhD*†‡; and the Stratall ANRS 12110/ESTHER Study Group

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Author Information

From the *INSERM, U912 (SE4S), Marseille, Bouches-du-Rhône, France; †Université Aix Marseille, IRD, UMR-S912, Marseille, France; ‡ORS PACA, Observatoire Régional de la Santé Provence Alpes Côte d'Azur, Marseille, France; §Central Hospital, Yaoundé, Cameroun; and ‖IRD, Université de Montpellier 1, UMR 233, Montpellier, Hérault, France.

The members of the Stratall ANRS 12110/ESTHER Study Group are listed as Supplemental Digital Content 1 (http://links.lww.com/QAI/A192).

The authors have no funding or conflicts of interest to disclose.

Correspondence to: Dr Roux Perrine, PhD, ORS PACA/InsermU912, 23 rue Stanislas Torrents, 13006 Marseille, France (e-mail: perrine.roux@inserm.fr).

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Abstract

Objectives: Antiretroviral treatment (ART) scale-up in sub-Saharan Africa has made it possible to investigate the maintenance of adherence to HIV medications. We describe here adherence to ART and identify its correlates in the Cameroonian context.

Design: Prospective cohort study in 9 rural district hospitals.

Methods: A mixed logistic regression model was used to identify factors associated with adherence to ART in 401 patients with data prospectively collected on adherence.

Results: Although 73% of patients were adherent after the first month on ART, this proportion decreased to 61% after 24 months. After adjustment for known factors of adherence to ART (such as knowledge, motivation and side-effects), patients who reported willingness to start ART before initiation, those who were satisfied with information provided by their physicians, and those who implemented reminder methods for ART intake {eg, using an alarm clock, mobile phone, or watch [odds ratio (95% confidence interval)] = 2.45 (1.58 to 3.79), but also the help of a relative to remind them or other methods} were more likely to be adherent to ART.

Conclusions: Besides highlighting some correlates already known to have an impact on adherence to ART, our findings also underline the need to reinforce the counseling component of follow-up through innovative methods. Accordingly, training and implementation research should encourage the use of medication reminder methods, such as mobile phones, to assure adherence over time and improve long-term response to ART.

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INTRODUCTION

Ever since the launch of the WHO “3 by 5” initiative, which aimed to improve access to and use of health services supplying HIV care, the availability of antiretroviral treatment (ART) in sub-Saharan countries and elsewhere has dramatically increased.1 This scaling up should continue as access to treatment is recognized today as one of the key challenges for combining HIV care and prevention. Nevertheless, concerns have been raised about adherence to ART and its possible consequences, the most serious one being the acquisition of viral resistance that can threaten the effectiveness of ART and its long-term benefits for HIV-infected individuals.2 Previous studies have already highlighted a number of similar determinants of adherence to ART in low-medium and high-income countries, such as perceived side-effects or depression.3,4 However, if one takes into account the cultural and economic contexts, then a greater number of determinants may influence adherence to ART in HIV-infected individuals. For instance, it is known that for patients living in poor settings, financial and geographical difficulties in accessing treatment can impair adherence to ART.5 In addition, adherence is a dynamic process which changes over time and cannot be reliably predicted by a few time-varying patient characteristics.6,7 That is why access to ART needs to be accompanied by adapted methods helping patients adhere to ART. The findings from Shet et al8 in their recently designed mobile phone-based intervention in India showed that telecommunications technology in resource-limited settings may be used efficiently to enhance adherence to ART. In addition, a randomized controlled trial recently conducted in Kenya has shown the positive impact of receiving a short mobile phone message on adherence to ART.9,10

In Africa, few data exist about the possibility of using reminder methods to help patients maintain adherence to ART. We assessed correlates of adherence to ART and to what extent adherence could both vary during the follow-up of patients in care and be influenced by reminder methods.

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METHODS

Study Design

A prospective cohort study was conducted in 9 rural district hospitals of the Centre region of Cameroon among HIV-infected patients enrolled from May 2006 to April 2008 in a randomized controlled trial designed to compare 2 monitoring strategies (ANRS 12110/ESTHER Stratall trial).11 Enrolled patients initiated ART at month 0 (M0). The schedule of subsequent clinical follow-up visits was as follows: day 15, month 1 (M1), and every 3 months thereafter until M24. Patients also answered a face-to-face questionnaire concerning their psychosocial and socioeconomic characteristics at M0, M1, M3, M6, M12, M18, and M24. We used a 10-point scale to measure the social level of patients, which has been already validated as a good predictor for health status.12 The behavioral section of the questionnaire included in particular information on patients' behaviors toward ART intake in terms of adherence, satisfaction with provided information on treatment, and on intake reminder methods. The variable entitled “reminder methods” was built through a question asking whether the patients used methods to remind them to take their treatment. If a patient reported having used a method such as “asking a person to remind him/her, setting a clock, mobile phone, or watch alarm,” then the use of reminders was identified. Methods other than these were labeled “other reminder method(s)”; and finally if no method was used, we considered the variable as “no reminder method”. A motivational variable was chosen to identify to what extent the patient showed a strong willingness to start HIV treatment. We chose a question, which explored whether the patient had started treatment through his/her own choice.

In the self-administered questionnaire, a section comprising seven questions was dedicated to the assessment of ART adherence. All ART-treated patients were asked to list, for each antiretroviral drug, the daily number of prescribed pills they had taken during the 4 days before the visit. Patients were also asked if they had “totally” or “partially” taken their prescribed doses of ART or had “interrupted their treatment” during the same 4-day period. Patients were considered “nonadherent” if they reported that they had taken less than 100% of the total dose of antiretroviral drugs prescribed and/or if they reported in the self-administered questionnaire that they had not “totally” followed their prescribed regimen during the 4 days before the visit. In addition, a visual analogue scale was used to reclassify as nonadherent those patients whose scale was <100%. An adherence level of 100% was indeed shown to be highly correlated with detectable serum concentrations of protease inhibitors by our group in France.13

The present study focuses on data collected after treatment initiation at M1, M3, and every 3 months thereafter for adherence to ART. Clinical data were collected only at enrollment (M0). The study population comprised 401 patients who had data on adherence to ART, accounting for 1970 clinic visits.

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Statistical Analysis

A mixed logistic regression model was used to identify the correlates of adherence to ART. Variables with a P value lower than 0.20 in the univariate analysis were included in the multivariate model. A forward stepwise procedure based on the likelihood ratio test was used to build the final multivariate model. The significance threshold was fixed at α = 0.05. Statistical analyses were performed using the SPSS v15.0 (SPSS, Inc, Chicago, IL) and Intercooled Stata 10 (StataCorp LP, College Station, TX) software packages.

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RESULTS

Characteristics of the Study Population

Among the 401 patients, a total of 115 (29%) were men, and median [interquartile range (IQR)] age was 36 years (30-44). One-fifth reported being married and half had an education level higher than secondary school. The median (IQR) social level was 2[1-2]. At the enrollment visit, 267 (66%) patients reported having a mobile phone. The median (IQR) CD4 cell count was 193 (92-353), and one quarter of patients were at clinical stage 4. First-line regimens included stavudine, lamivudine, and nevirapine (n = 269, 68%); zidovudine, lamivudine, and nevirapine (n = 22, 6%); stavudine, lamivudine, and efavirenz (n = 72, 18%); or zidovudine, lamivudine, and efavirenz (n = 34, 9%).

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Adherence to ART During Follow-Up

Patients reported adherence to ART in 1305 (66%) visits. A quarter (101) were considered adherent throughout the entire follow-up, whereas only 28 (7%) were nonadherent at each visit. The proportion of ART-adherent patients decreased from 73% at M1 to 61% at M24 (Fig. 1). With regard to the different reminder methods used to adhere to ART, patients reported having used a method in 92% of visits—including a person to remind them in 15% of visits and a programmed electronic device, such as an alarm clock, mobile phone, or watch, in 32% of visits.

Figure 1
Figure 1
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Factors Associated With Adherence to ART

The results of both univariate and multivariate analyses are presented in Table 1. The univariate analysis shows a number of known correlates of nonadherence to ART, which are no longer associated in the multivariate analysis, such as being married and having a low social level. After the multivariate analysis, the following correlates remaining associated with adherence to ART were: being at HIV clinical stage 4, having reported no alcohol binge drinking, having a good perception of treatment and a higher satisfaction with information given by health providers. Interestingly, after having adjusted for all these correlates, we found that patients who had implemented some ART intake reminder methods, such as asking a person to remind him/her [odds ratio (OR) = 1.97, 95% confidence interval (CI): (1.21 to 3.23)], setting a clock, mobile phone, or watch alarm [OR = 2.45, 95% CI: (1.58 to 3.79)], or other methods [OR = 1.47, 95% CI: (0.97 to 2.23)] were more likely to be adherent to ART.

Table 1
Table 1
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DISCUSSION

The main result of our study is that the use of reminder methods could help patients maintain adherence to ART, after adjustment for known confounders. The second issue raised by this analysis is the decrease in adherence to ART over time, highlighting the difficulties of maintaining adherence to ART from the early stages of treatment to the long-term phases.

Although studies on the use of electronic reminder devices in developed countries have demonstrated low effectiveness in maintaining adherence to ART,14 simplified electronic methods could be envisaged and introduced more effectively in the daily lives of patients, particularly in Africa. Indeed, studies conducted in other disease contexts have shown the positive impact of reminding interventions to help patients take medications. For instance, in asthmatic patients, receiving daily cell-phone text message reminders has shown to improve adherence to asthma treatment.15 In addition, in patients with antihypertensive therapy, the use of reminder devices has shown to have a positive impact on adherence.16 As far back as 2001, it was suggested that adherence strategies should take the “high-tech route” and that HIV could be monitored with the help of new devices.17 High-tech instruments have been perceived as “tools for thinking and tools for representing the world”, although more particularly, the cell phone is regarded as “the single most transformative technology for development”. Indeed, the use of mobile phones, computers, and the Internet has seen unprecedented development in Africa.18 Recent studies conducted in India have shown that the use of mobile phone reminders, using an automated call, and a picture message may be effective in sustaining adherence to ART in HIV-infected individuals.8,19 In our study, nearly two-thirds of patients possessed a mobile phone. As it has already been shown that the most common reason for missing doses is forgetting to take the drugs,20 using reminder methods such as an alarm clock, text, or call in resource-limited countries could be a tool to help patients taking long-term medications such as ART.21

The use of reminder methods could thus be promoted during HIV counseling as a relevant strategy to improve adherence to ART, and more interventions using available technologies in Africa need implementation after proper evaluation. Our study also highlights other correlates associated with adherence to ART, corroborating the findings of other studies in various contexts. One example of this is alcohol binge drinking which has been shown to have a very negative impact on adherence to ART.22,23 Identifying alcohol abuse in HIV-infected individuals should not be forgotten in the African context.24 Positive patient beliefs about ART efficacy and reduction of related side-effects and patient satisfaction with the information given by providers have also been found to help maintain adherence to ART. The findings in our study endorse those from previous observations suggesting the importance of providing relevant information and counseling from ART initiation and throughout follow-up.25

Some limitations have to be acknowledged. This study was not specifically designed to assess the impact of reminder methods on adherence to ART. We could have created a questionnaire, which focused in greater detail on this issue. However, as there is an important correlation between cognitive and motivational characteristics of the patients and the use of reminder methods, it was important to adjust the model for such confounders. Enough items were included in the self-administered questionnaire to avoid any such bias. Further implementation research studies should be designed to better investigate the effectiveness and the feasibility of including reminding strategies on adherence to ART. These findings could help care providers improve initiatives to maintain good adherence to ART, especially since HIV care decentralization in Cameroon has been enforced as a national policy and access to and coverage of ART are now recognized as effective tools in the prevention of sexual transmission of HIV.

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ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

We thank all members of the ANRS 12110/ESTHER Stratall study group. We especially thank all physicians and nurses who are involved in the follow-up of the cohort and all patients who took part in this study. Finally, we thank Jude Sweeney for the English revision and editing of our article.

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REFERENCES

1. WHO. Towards universal access: Scaling up priority HIV/AIDS interventions in the health sector. Progress Report. Available at: http://www.who.int/hiv/pub/2010progressreport/en/. Accessed January 15, 2011.

2. Harries AD, Nyangulu DS, Hargreaves NJ, et al. Preventing antiretroviral anarchy in sub-Saharan Africa. Lancet. 2001;358:410-414.

3. Byakika-Tusiime J, Crane J, Oyugi JH, et al. Longitudinal antiretroviral adherence in HIV+ Ugandan parents and their children initiating HAART in the MTCT-Plus family treatment model: role of depression in declining adherence over time. AIDS Behav. 2009;13(suppl 1):82-91.

4. Bouhnik AD, Preau M, Vincent E, et al. Depression and clinical progression in HIV-infected drug users treated with highly active antiretroviral therapy. Antivir Ther. 2005;10:53-61.

5. Bangsberg DR, Ware N, Simoni JM. Adherence without access to antiretroviral therapy in sub-Saharan Africa? AIDS. 2006;20:140-141; author reply: 141-142.

6. Spire B, Duran S, Souville M, et al. Adherence to highly active antiretroviral therapies (HAART) in HIV-infected patients: from a predictive to a dynamic approach. Soc Sci Med. 2002;54:1481-1496.

7. Amberbir A, Woldemichael K, Getachew S, et al. Predictors of adherence to antiretroviral therapy among HIV-infected persons: a prospective study in Southwest Ethiopia. BMC Public Health. 2008;8:265.

8. Shet A, Arumugam K, Rodrigues R, et al. Designing a mobile phone-based intervention to promote adherence to antiretroviral therapy in South India. AIDS Behav. 2010;14:716-720.

9. Lester RT, Ritvo P, Mills EJ, et al. Effects of a mobile phone short message service on antiretroviral treatment adherence in Kenya (WelTel Kenya1): a randomised trial. Lancet. 2010;376:1838-1845.

10. Pop-Eleches C, Thirumurthy H, Habyarimana JP, et al. Mobile phone technologies improve adherence to antiretroviral treatment in a resource-limited setting: a randomized controlled trial of text message reminders. AIDS. 2011;25:825-834.

11. Kouanfack C, Laborde-Balen G, Aghokeng AF, et al. WHO clinical criteria-based initiation of antiretroviral therapy: lessons from rural district hospitals in Cameroon with regard to 2009 revised WHO recommendations. Trop Med Int Health. 2010;15:580-583.

12. Singh-Manoux A, Marmot MG, Adler NE. Does subjective social status predict health and change in health status better than objective status? Psychosom Med. 2005;67:855-861.

13. Duran S, Solas C, Spire B, et al. Do HIV-infected injecting drug users over-report adherence to highly active antiretroviral therapy? A comparison between patients' self-reports and serum protease inhibitor concentrations in the French Manif 2000 cohort study. AIDS. 2001;15:1075-1077.

14. Wise J, Operario D. Use of electronic reminder devices to improve adherence to antiretroviral therapy: a systematic review. AIDS Patient Care STDS. 2008;22:495-504.

15. Strandbygaard U, Thomsen SF, Backer V. A daily SMS reminder increases adherence to asthma treatment: a three-month follow-up study. Respir Med. 2010;104:166-171.

16. Christensen A, Christrup LL, Fabricius PE, et al. The impact of an electronic monitoring and reminder device on patient compliance with antihypertensive therapy: a randomized controlled trial. J Hypertens. 2010;28:194-200.

17. Andrade A. HIV adherence strategies take a high-tech route. AIDS Alert. 2001;16:97-98.

18. Kaplan WA. Can the ubiquitous power of mobile phones be used to improve health outcomes in developing countries? Global Health. 2006;2:9.

19. De Costa A, Shet A, Kumarasamy N, et al. Design of a randomized trial to evaluate the influence of mobile phone reminders on adherence to first line antiretroviral treatment in South India—the HIVIND study protocol. BMC Med Res Methodol. 2010;10:25.

20. Sullivan PS, Campsmith ML, Nakamura GV, et al. Patient and regimen characteristics associated with self-reported nonadherence to antiretroviral therapy. PLoS ONE. 2007;2:e552.

21. HIV pill reminder device shows some adherence improvement. Technology now switched to cell phone. AIDS Alert. 2005;20:139-140.

22. Braithwaite RS, McGinnis KA, Conigliaro J, et al. A temporal and dose-response association between alcohol consumption and medication adherence among veterans in care. Alcohol Clin Exp Res. 2005;29:1190-1197.

23. Etienne M, Hossain M, Redfield R, et al. Indicators of Adherence to Antiretroviral Therapy Treatment Among HIV/AIDS Patients in 5 African Countries. J Int Assoc Physicians AIDS Care (Chic). 2010;9:98-103.

24. Jaquet A, Ekouevi DK, Bashi J, et al. Alcohol use and non-adherence to antiretroviral therapy in HIV-infected patients in West Africa. Addiction. 2010;105:1416-1421.

25. Cook PF, McCabe MM, Emiliozzi S, et al. Telephone nurse counseling improves HIV medication adherence: an effectiveness study. J Assoc Nurses AIDS Care. 2009;20:316-325.

Cited By:

This article has been cited 1 time(s).

Plos One
High Levels of Adherence and Viral Suppression in a Nationally Representative Sample of HIV-Infected Adults on Antiretroviral Therapy for 6, 12 and 18 Months in Rwanda
Elul, B; Basinga, P; Nuwagaba-Biribonwoha, H; Saito, S; Horowitz, D; Nash, D; Mugabo, J; Mugisha, V; Rugigana, E; Nkunda, R; Asiimwe, A
Plos One, 8(1): -.
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CrossRef
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Keywords:

adherence; Africa; antiretroviral treatment; HIV; reminder

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© 2011 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.

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