Nearly perfect compliance seems to be indispensable to obtain the maximum benefit from highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART). Interventions to ensure a high level of adherence during a relatively long-term period of therapy are necessary.
This is a prospective, randomized, two-arm controlled study including patients starting their first- or second-line HAART who were randomized to receive psychoeducative intervention to implement adherence (experimental group [EG]) or a usual medical follow-up (control group [CG]). We aimed to study the efficacy of a psychoeducative intervention to ensure long-term adherence to HAART, its relation with the virologic efficacy of treatment, and to determine the variables related to long-term adherence. Visits were made at weeks 0, 4, 24, and 48 for data collection. Self-reported adherence was registered at each visit and its veracity was tested by randomized blood analyses performed without previous warning to 40% of patients. Appropriate adherence was defined as the consumption of ≥95% of medication prescribed. Statistical analyses were performed both by the as treated (AT) and the intention to treat missing = failure (ITT) methods.
In all, 116 patients were included. At week 48, 94% of patients in the EG versus 69% controls achieved adherence ≥95% (p = .008); 89% of patients in the EG versus 66% controls had HIV-1 RNA levels <400 copies/ml (p = .026). Overall, 85% of patients with adherence ≥95% but only 45% of those with adherence <95% had viral load (VL) <400 copies/ml (p = .008). In multivariate analysis, variables significantly related to adherence were having received a psychoeducative intervention (odds ratio [OR], 6.58; p = .04), poor effort to take medication (OR, 5.38; p = .03), and high self-perceived capacity to follow the regimen (OR, 13.76; p = .04). Self-reported adherence and drug plasma levels coincided in 93% of cases. However, differences in adherence did not reach statistical significance in the ITT analysis although a clear tendency toward benefit was observed in EG.
Specific and maintained psychoeducative interventions based on excellence on clinical practice are useful to keep high levels of adherence as well as high levels of viral suppression. There is a clear relation between high adherence levels and virologic success. Assessment of certain specific variables related to adherence may be helpful to monitor patient's compliance in the clinical setting.