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Electronic Measurement of Adherence to Pediatric Antiretroviral Therapy in South Africa

Müller, Alexandra D.*†; Bode, Stefan DiplPsych*‡; Myer, Landon PhD§¶; Roux, Paul MBChB, MPhil†; von Steinbüchel, Nicole Prof Dr Rer Biol Hum*

Pediatric Infectious Disease Journal: March 2008 - Volume 27 - Issue 3 - pp 257-262
doi: 10.1097/INF.0b013e31815b1ad4
Original Studies

Background: Little is known about adherence to pediatric antiretroviral regimens in countries of the developing world. Both assessment methods and predictors of adherence need to be examined to deliver appropriate health care to the growing patient population in resource-limited settings.

Methods: We conducted a prospective study of adherence in a pediatric HIV outpatient clinic in Cape Town, South Africa. Adherence was assessed by the Medication Event Monitoring System (MEMS) and caregiver self-report by Visual Analogue Scale (VAS). Virologic response was recorded at study baseline and closest follow-up visit, child and caregiver data were collected by questionnaires.

Results: For 73 children followed, median adherence by MEMS was 87.5%; median caregiver reported adherence was 100%. MEMS and caregiver report differed in reporting excellent (>95%) adherence, with MEMS classifying 36% of subjects in this category, whereas caregiver report classified 91%. Overall, 65% of children achieved virologic suppression after the study period. MEMS adherence was significantly associated with virologic suppression. The highest specificity was obtained when adjusting the data for doses taken at the prescribed time (91.3%). No predictors for the differences between MEMS and caregiver reported adherence could be identified.

Conclusions: Adherence to pediatric antiretroviral regimens in South Africa is not lower than in the developed world, yet not high enough to guarantee long-term treatment success. Caregiver report seems unreliable in this setting. MEMS is a feasible and accurate measure of adherence for children on liquid drug formulations.

From the *Department of Medical Psychology and Medical Sociology, Georg-August University Göttingen, Germany; †School of Child and Adolescent Health, University of Cape Town, South Africa; ‡Max-Planck Institute for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences, Leipzig, Germany; §Infectious Diseases Epidemiology Unit, School of Public Health and Family Medicine, University of Cape Town, South Africa; and ¶Department of Epidemiology, Mailman School of Public Health, Columbia University, New York, NY.

Accepted for publication September 13, 2007.

Supported by Aardex Ltd., Zug, Switzerland.

Address for correspondence: Alexandra D. Müller, Department of Medical Psychology and Medical Sociology, Georg-August University, Waldweg 37, 37073 Göttingen, Germany. E-mail: alexdmueller@gmail.com.

© 2008 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.