Poor adherence to highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART) is a major hindrance to the reduction of mortality and morbidity due to HIV. This qualitative study used focus groups to explore the views and experiences of HIV patients on HAART with adherence reminders, especially the text message (SMS [short message service]). The ethnographic data obtained were used to design a clinical trial to assess the effect of motivational text messages versus usual care to enhance adherence to HAART among HIV patients in Yaoundé, Cameroon. Participants appreciated the idea of a timely SMS reminder, and cited the physician as a role model. They expressed concerns about privacy. Long-term life goals were a motivating factor to adhere. Overall, text messaging was viewed positively as a tool with a dual function of reminder and motivator. Messages coming from the attending physician may have a stronger impact. Trials investigating the use of text messages to improve adherence to HAART need to consider the content and timing of SMS, taking into account technical challenges and privacy.
Keywords: adherence; focus groups; highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART); human immunodeficiency virus (HIV); short message service (SMS); text message.