Health SA Gesondheid (Online)
On-line version ISSN 1025-9848
MTHEMBU, Thuli G. and VAN WYK, Brian. Patients' knowledge and beliefs about antiretroviral treatment and factors associated with adherence in Mpumalanga Province, South Africa. Health SA Gesondheid (Online) [online]. 2014, vol.19, n.1, pp. 1-7. ISSN 1025-9848. http://dx.doi.org/10.4102/hsag.v19i1.718.
BACKGROUND: Antiretroviral treatment (ART) improves the prognosis and quality of life for HIV patients by reducing the rate of disease progression and mortality. Although ART has been available in public health centres in South Africa since 2003, adherence to treatment still remains a challenge. To date, no study has investigated adherence and the factors that influence adherence to ART in rural settings in Mpumalanga Province. OBJECTIVE: This study described adherence to, knowledge and beliefs about ART and other factors associated with adherence amongst patients registered at Shongwe Hospital in Nkomazi Local Municipality. METHOD: A cross-sectional survey of 184 randomly selected patients on ART between ages of 15 and 65 years was conducted. RESULTS: The respondents completed a questionnaire on self-reported adherence, knowledge and beliefs about ART and other factors associated with adherence. The majority of the respondents were female (71.2%) and unemployed (83.7%). Most respondents reported optimal ART adherence (taking 95% or more of their medication as prescribed) over the past two (92.4%) and seven (84.2%) days, respectively. The level of knowledge about ART was high and most reported positive beliefs about the effectiveness of ART. However, slightly more than half (53.3%) believed that ART was harmful for the body. The most commonly-reported reasons for missing dosages were forgetfulness, business of the daily routine, having visitors, 'visiting a bar' and sleeping away from home. CONCLUSION: Although, the study found that most ART patients at Shongwe Hospital reported optimal adherence initially, the reasons for missing dosages, some incorrect knowledge and beliefs need to be addressed to ensure long-term adherence and persistence in care.