For children born with HIV, adhering to medication gets harder with age

Posted on August 17, 2019

Statistics shows that children born with HIV in the United States were less likely to adhere to their medication as they age from preadolescence into young adulthood, according to new study at the School of Public Health.

This is one of the first studies to examine why different age groups stop adhering to treatment. While the factors related to nonadherence varied by age group, youth who were concerned about side effects of the drugs were less likely to be adherent at most ages.
As they approach adulthood, environmental and situational challenges like entering new relationships, managing disclosure of their HIV status, and changing to an adult HIV care provider – these made it harder for youth to adhere to treatment, varied depending on their age.

Adherence can be more complicated for youth growing up with perinatal HIV, whose lifelong experiences with HIV, stigma, and multiple antiretroviral medications may pose challenges to achieving viral suppression that are different from youth who acquire HIV later in life.

To answer why young people may not adhere to their medications - The researchers found that from preadolescence to young adulthood, the prevalence of nonadherence increased from 31% to 50%. In addition, the prevalence of detectable viral load among the same age groups increased from 16% to 40%.

For each age group, different factors were associated with nonadherence. For example, during middle adolescence (15-17 years old), alcohol use, having an unmarried caregiver, indirect exposure to violence, stigma, and stressful life events were all associated with nonadherence.

Hence, it is important to talk to youth about how to take medication properly as the study highlights the need for those who care for those youths to focus on age-related factors that may influence adherence.

Source material from Science Daily

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