Objective: The goal of the current study was to determine how a set of social cognitive factors predict antiretroviral therapy (ART) medication adherence in youth living with HIV in an era of newer highly active ART medications using a conceptual model.
Methods: Behaviorally infected youth living with HIV ages 13-24 (N = 822) from 14 sites within the Adolescent Medicine Trials Unit (AMTU) were included in the study. Structural equation modeling was used to explore predictors of ART medication adherence.
Results: Results found that motivational readiness for ART was related to higher ART medication adherence, which was associated with lower viral load. Higher social support and higher self-efficacy had an indirect relationship with higher adherence through increased motivational readiness. Fewer psychological symptoms were associated with higher social support and higher self-efficacy. Lower substance use was directly associated with lower adherence.
Conclusions: The results provide insight into factors that may be related to adherence in youth living with HIV. Findings suggest focusing on motivational readiness to increase adherence. Improving the patients' ART self-efficacy and strengthening their social support networks during treatment can increase motivational readiness for ART treatment. Furthermore, programs maybe more effective with the inclusion of risk reduction components especially those related to substance use.