Original Research

The effect of substance uses on antiretroviral treatment adherence in primary health care

Ramprakash Kaswa, Marietjie R. de Villiers
South African Family Practice | Vol 65, No 1 : Part 2| a5660 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/safp.v65i1.5660 | © 2023 Ramprakash Kaswa, Marietjie R. de Villiers | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 09 November 2022 | Published: 30 March 2023

About the author(s)

Ramprakash Kaswa, Department of Family Medicine and Rural Health, Faculty of Health Sciences, Walter Sisulu University, Mthatha, Eastern Cape, South Africa; and, Department of Family Medicine and Primary Care, Faculty of Health Sciences, Stellenbosch University, Cape Town, South Africa
Marietjie R. de Villiers, Department of Family Medicine and Primary Care, Faculty of Health Sciences, Stellenbosch University, Cape Town, South Africa

Abstract

Background: Adherence to antiretroviral treatment (ART) is the primary factor determining how an individual responds to their treatment. Unfortunately, individuals who use substances experience suboptimal adherence to their treatment, but little is known about the exact effects of their use on ART adherence in primary health care settings.

Methods: The authors used a prospective cohort study to evaluate substance use’s effects on ART adherence among people living with HIV (PLWH) who attend primary health care services in the Mthatha region of South Africa.

Results: During the study period, 601 PLWH were followed up for 6 months. The participant’s mean age was 38.5 (standard deviation [s.d.] = 11) years, with a mean CD4 count of 491.7 (s.d. = 241). Suboptimal ART adherence and default rates were 20.2% and 9.3%, respectively. Among the substance users, suboptimal adherence to ART was statistically significantly higher than non-users (24.6% and 15.9%, respectively, p = 0.007). The authors also observed suboptimum ART adherence among people who presented with clinical comorbidities.

Conclusion: Substance use has negatively affected ART adherence among PLWH who attend primary health care services in the Eastern Cape province of South Africa. Therefore, an integrated substance use management strategy in primary health care is recommended to achieve optimal adherence to ART.

Contribution: Substance use disorder significantly affected the adherence to ART in primary health care. This is important since primary care is the gateway to the HIV care continuum. The study highlighted the role of integration of substance use management in primary care.

 


Keywords

ART; adherence; cohort study; primary care; PLWH; substance use

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