Barriers to antiretroviral therapy adherence in rural Mozambique

BMC Public Health. 2011 Aug 16:11:650. doi: 10.1186/1471-2458-11-650.


Background: HIV is treated as a chronic disease, but high lost-to-follow-up rates and poor adherence to medication result in higher mortality, morbidity, and viral mutation. Within 18 clinical sites in rural Zambézia Province, Mozambique, patient adherence to antiretroviral therapy has been sub-optimal.

Methods: To better understand barriers to adherence, we conducted 18 community and clinic focus groups in six rural districts. We interviewed 76 women and 88 men, of whom 124 were community participants (CP; 60 women, 64 men) and 40 were health care workers (HCW; 16 women, 24 men) who provide care for those living with HIV.

Results: While there was some consensus, both CP and HCW provided complementary insights. CP focus groups noted a lack of confidentiality and poor treatment by hospital staff (42% CP vs. 0% HCW), doubt as to the benefits of antiretroviral therapy (75% CP vs. 0% HCW), and sharing medications with family members (66% CP vs. 0%HCW). Men expressed a greater concern about poor treatment by HCW than women (83% men vs. 0% women). Health care workers blamed patient preference for traditional medicine (42% CP vs. 100% HCW) and the side effects of medication for poor adherence (8% CP vs. 83% CHW).

Conclusions: Perspectives of CP and HCW likely reflect differing sociocultural and educational backgrounds. Health care workers must understand community perspectives on causes of suboptimal adherence as a first step toward effective intervention.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Anti-Retroviral Agents / adverse effects
  • Anti-Retroviral Agents / economics
  • Anti-Retroviral Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Attitude of Health Personnel
  • Attitude to Health
  • Community Health Services
  • Community Health Workers / psychology
  • Community-Based Participatory Research
  • Confidentiality
  • Female
  • Focus Groups
  • HIV Infections / drug therapy*
  • Health Services Accessibility*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Medication Adherence / psychology*
  • Medication Adherence / statistics & numerical data
  • Mozambique
  • Professional-Patient Relations*
  • Qualitative Research
  • Rural Health Services*
  • Socioeconomic Factors


  • Anti-Retroviral Agents