Becoming Adherent: Experiences of Persons Living With HIV/AIDS

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Abstract

Interviews were conducted with HIV-infected persons who had been taking antiretroviral medications for 6 months, reported high levels of adherence, and had low or stable viral loads consistent with adherence. Analysis of the qualitative data revealed five themes related to adherence. “Choosing life” was reflected in decisions about initiating treatment, changing one's lifestyle, and pursuing goals. “Riding it out” emerged from descriptions of adjusting to side effects and overcoming barriers to adherence. “Figuring it out” encompassed individual strategies for incorporating pill-taking into one's life, such as use of pillboxes and making a schedule. “Sticking to it” was overcoming internal resistance to maintaining adherence. “Realizing the benefits,” the final theme, revealed successful adherers who had improved clinical outcomes and for whom pill-taking had become routine.

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