Effects of Counselling on Adherence to Antiretroviral Treatment Among People with HIV in Estonia: A Randomized Controlled Trial

AIDS Behav. 2018 Jan;22(1):224-233. doi: 10.1007/s10461-017-1859-6.


To assess the efficacy of an education- and strengths-based counselling programme to promote antiretroviral therapy (ART) adherence in a cohort of HIV-infected individuals with high prevalence of injection drug use in Estonia. Parallel-group randomized (1:1) controlled trial (RCT). Adults receiving ART in two clinics were followed for 12 months. The trial compared: (i) an intervention (three sessions) incorporated into routine clinic visits, providing education about HIV, ART, the role of adherence, and tailoring regimen to daily routines using problem-solving skills to address adherence barriers versus (ii) usual care (control). Primary and secondary outcomes were self-reported ART adherence (3-day recall) and viral load (respectively). 519 patients were randomized and 82% completed the study. Recent optimal ART adherence (3-day recall ≥95%) was reported by 75.6% in the intervention group and 72.9% of controls at baseline and 76.7% and 67.5%, respectively, at 12 months (RR 1.14, 95% CI 1.00-1.28; adjusted RR 1.13, 95% CI 1.00-1.27). There was no difference in the proportion of patients with undetectable viral load. At 12 months the intervention group reported significantly higher perceptions of ART necessity versus ART concerns [mean ART necessity-concerns differential: intervention group 1.32 (SD 1.22) vs control group 1.08 (SD 1.12); p = 0.048]. All-cause mortality among study participants was 27.7 per 1000 person years (95% CI 15.6-44.8). A brief, clinic-based adherence intervention alone may assist with adherence but lacks impact on viral load at 12 months.

Keywords: Adherence; Antiretroviral therapy; Counselling; Estonia; Intervention.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Ambulatory Care Facilities
  • Anti-HIV Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Antiretroviral Therapy, Highly Active / methods*
  • Cohort Studies
  • Counseling*
  • Estonia / epidemiology
  • Female
  • HIV Infections / drug therapy*
  • HIV Infections / epidemiology
  • HIV Infections / psychology
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Medication Adherence*
  • Middle Aged
  • Outcome and Process Assessment, Health Care
  • Perception
  • Prevalence
  • Self Report
  • Substance Abuse, Intravenous / complications*
  • Substance Abuse, Intravenous / epidemiology
  • Viral Load


  • Anti-HIV Agents