Adherence to antiretroviral therapy in HIV-infected pediatric patients improves with home-based intensive nursing intervention

AIDS Patient Care STDS. 2004 Jun;18(6):355-63. doi: 10.1089/1087291041444078.


Adherence to combination antiretroviral therapy (ART) has been shown to be a determining factor in controlling viral replication, maintaining immunologic function and long-term survival in HIV-positive individuals. Little information is available on strategies to improve adherence in pediatric HIV-infected patients. We conducted a randomized, nonblinded, pilot study to determine if a home-based nursing intervention would improve medication adherence. The study was offered to all eligible HIV-positive patients receiving care at Connecticut Children's Medical Center's (CCMC) Pediatric and Youth HIV Program. Sixty-seven percent (37/55) of the patients and their caretakers participated. We randomized participants to either standard of care or the intervention trial. The intervention was designed to improve knowledge and understanding of HIV infection and HIV medications and to resolve or modify barriers to adherence. Both groups completed pre- and post-intervention questionnaires, assessing their knowledge and understanding of HIV, ART, and adherence. Adherence was estimated objectively from medication refill history and subjectively from a self-report score. We also inferred adherence from pre- to post-test plasma viral load and CD4+ T-cell percentages. The knowledge score (p = 0.02) and medication refill history (p = 0.002) improved significantly in the intervention group. The adherence self-report score improved, although not significantly (p = 0.07). We did not observe statistical differences in CD4+ T-cell counts or viral load between groups. We conclude that our home-based nursing intervention helped HIV-positive children and their families in better adhering to prescribed medication regimens.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Anti-Retroviral Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Child
  • Child Health Services*
  • Child, Preschool
  • Connecticut
  • Female
  • HIV Infections / drug therapy*
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice
  • Home Care Services*
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Male
  • Multivariate Analysis
  • Patient Compliance*
  • Pilot Projects
  • Self Administration*
  • Statistics, Nonparametric
  • Viral Load


  • Anti-Retroviral Agents