Medication adherence in HIV-positive African Americans

Depression can create pessimistic beliefs about HIV healthcare, influencing whether or not a patient adheres to a course of medication

Recent research published in Cogent Psychology explores the factors influencing whether or not African American HIV patients will choose to remain on a course of antiretroviral medication. Key variables on HIV medication adherence from patients can include sensation- or risk-seeking preferences, neurocognition, drug abuse or drug dependence, as well as negative perceptions of healthcare.

The primary aim of the current study was to determine whether the influence of increasing age is mediated by treatment-specific health beliefs and sensation-seeking – and although age was not associated with health beliefs in this model, the decrease in sensation-seeking associated with increasing age was linked to more likely continuing treatment. Specifically, increasing age predicts lower levels of sensation-seeking, and this improves adherence to antiretroviral medication.

Higher levels of depression were related to negative perceptions concerning utility of HIV treatment, and depression has been proven to be nearly twice as common in HIV-positive individuals, compared to HIV-negative individuals. The authors of this study suggest that clinicians can conduct interventions to address and reframe negative or maladaptive thoughts to help HIV-positive patients. “Depression is associated with symptoms that may lead to diminished or maladaptive views of treatment utility, such as apathy, hopelessness, and cognitive distortions,” the team has written. “Compensatory strategies for medication management may help improve adherence. … Future research should examine predictors of cART adherence in AAs using more geographically, socioeconomically, and ethnically diverse samples.”

Read more: Medication adherence in HIV-positive African Americans: The roles of age, health beliefs, and sensation seeking

Philip Sayegh et al. Cogent Psychology, 2016, 3: 1137207 (1 Feb 2016)