The transient effect of a peer support intervention to improve adherence among adolescents and young adults failing antiretroviral therapy in Harare, Zimbabwe: a randomized control trial

AIDS Res Ther. 2021 Jun 16;18(1):32. doi: 10.1186/s12981-021-00356-w.


Background: Adolescents and young adults living with HIV in sub Saharan Africa are at high risk of poor adherence to antiretroviral therapy (ART) and virologic failure (VF).

Methods: We conducted a randomized control trial among adolescents and young adults on ART with VF to assess the effectiveness of a community-based peer support intervention aimed at improving VF. Viral load (VL) levels were obtained at 12, 24 and 36 weeks. A subset of the participants had baseline HIV drug resistance (HIVDR) genotyped using Sanger sequencing.

Results: The participants' median (interquartile range (IQR)) age was 18.1 (IQR: 15.1-20.0) years and half (50.5%, n = 107) were male. At week 24, the proportion of subjects with a detectable viremia was significantly lower in the intervention arm than in the standard of care (SOC) arm (76.0% (n = 79) vs. 89.0% (n = 96), p = 0.013). At Week 36, there remained a difference in the proportion of subjects with a detectable VL between the intervention arm (68.3%, n = 71) and SOC arm (79.6%, n = 86), which was trending towards statistical significance (p = 0.059). There was no difference in the probability of having a detectable VL over time between the intervention and SOC groups (adjusted odds ratio: 1.14, p = 0.439). Baseline HIVDR was observed in 44.0% of the participants in the intervention and 56.0% in the SOC group (p = 0.146).

Conclusion: A transient effect of the peer support intervention in improving VF was observed among adolescents and young people failing ART.

Trial registration: This study is registered with under the reference number: NCT02833441.

Keywords: Adolescents; HIV; Peer support; Public health; Sub-Saharan Africa; Zimbabwe.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Anti-HIV Agents* / therapeutic use
  • Counseling
  • HIV Infections* / drug therapy
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Viral Load
  • Young Adult
  • Zimbabwe / epidemiology


  • Anti-HIV Agents

Associated data