Barriers and facilitators to antiretroviral medication adherence among patients with HIV in Chennai, India: a qualitative study

AIDS Patient Care STDS. 2005 Aug;19(8):526-37. doi: 10.1089/apc.2005.19.526.


Antiretroviral therapy (ART) for HIV is increasingly being introduced and utilized in diverse areas of the world. However, little research exists on adherence to ART in different cultural settings, particularly in developing countries such as India. This formative qualitative study examined barriers and facilitators of ART adherence among 60 (49 men, 11 women; 33 taking ART, 27 not currently taking ART) patients receiving HIV primary care at YRG CARE, a nongovernmental organization, in Chennai, India. The average participant reported becoming HIV infected through heterosexual transmission, was between 31 and 40 years old, had over ninth class standard education, was married, and generally had access to medical care; however, we obtained some qualitative data from various other risk categories. Trained ethnographers at the study site conducted in-depth interviews in the local language. These interviews were analyzed for content and ethnographic data. Almost all of the participants discussed the cost of ART as a barrier, with many reporting extended drug holidays, turning to family and/or friends, or taking drastic measures (i.e., selling family jewels, property) for financial assistance. Other barriers centered on privacy and stigma issues, such as disclosure of HIV inhibiting pill-taking and social support. Frequently discussed facilitators of adherence included perceived benefits of ART and proper adherence, perceptions about the consequences of nonadherence, and social support, if available. These data highlight the importance of reducing the cost of antiretroviral medications, involving family members in HIV care, and addressing privacy issues and stigma in counseling interventions in this setting.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Anti-HIV Agents / economics
  • Anti-HIV Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Drug Costs
  • Female
  • HIV Infections / drug therapy*
  • HIV Infections / psychology
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice*
  • Humans
  • India / epidemiology
  • Interviews as Topic
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Patient Compliance / psychology*
  • Privacy
  • Risk Factors
  • Social Support


  • Anti-HIV Agents