Background: Nearly perfect compliance seems to be indispensable to obtain the maximum benefit from highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART). Interventions to ensure a high level of adherence during a relatively long-term period of therapy are necessary. Methods: This is a prospective, randomized, two-arm controlled study including patients starting their first- or second-line HAART who were randomized to receive psychoeducative intervention to implement adherence (experimental group [EG]) or a usual medical follow-up (control group [CG]). We aimed to study the efficacy of a psychoeducative intervention to ensure long-term adherence to HAART, its relation with the virologic efficacy of treatment, and to determine the variables related to long-term adherence. Visits were made at weeks 0, 4, 24, and 48 for data collection. Self-reported adherence was registered at each visit and its veracity was tested by randomized blood analyses performed without previous warning to 40% of patients. Appropriate adherence was defined as the consumption of ≥95% of medication prescribed. Statistical analyses were performed both by the as treated (AT) and the intention to treat missing = failure (ITT) methods. Results: In all, 116 patients were included. At week 48, 94% of patients in the EG versus 69% controls achieved adherence ≥95% (p = .008); 89% of patients in the EG versus 66% controls had HIV - 1 RNA levels <400 copies/ml (p = .026). Overall, 85% of patients with adherence ≥95% but only 45% of those with adherence <95% had viral load (VL) <400 copies/ml (p = .008). In multivariate analysis, variables significantly related to adherence were having received a psychoeducative intervention (odds ratio [OR], 6.58; p = .04), poor effort to take medication (OR, 5.38; p = .03), and high self-perceived capacity to follow the regimen (OR, 13.76; p = .04). Self-reported adherence and drug plasma levels coincided in 93% of cases. However, differences in adherence did not reach statistical significance in the ITT analysis although a clear tendency toward benefit was observed in EG. Conclusions: Specific and maintained psychoeducative interventions based on excellence on clinical practice are useful to keep high levels of adherence as well as high levels of viral suppression. There is a clear relation between high adherence levels and virologic success. Assessment of certain specific variables related to adherence may be helpful to monitor patient's compliance in the clinical setting.
- Antiretroviral therapy