A small study by researchers in Chicago shows that attitudes about HIV/AIDS among HIV-positive people have a direct effect on how well a patient will adhere to anti-HIV drug treatments and that some specific attitudes can be predictive of patients who will have lax adherence, AIDS Alert reports. The researchers surveyed 72 adults, who were given 34 statements to rank according to the degree to which they agreed or disagreed with them. The questions covered demographics, the drugs being taken to fight HIV infection, and several attitude statements. Drug adherence was determined by a self-reported questionnaire as well as results from viral load and genotypic tests.
Patients who clearly understood HIV/AIDS and the importance of drug treatment were the most likely to adhere to their regimens, followed by patients who were depressed or saddened by their illness but had strong family and physician support. Study subjects who had unrealistic beliefs about HIV/AIDS and who believed they would live normal life spans despite being infected with HIV were the least likely to follow their drug regimens due to their unrealistic beliefs about HIV/AIDS, the researchers reported. "These patients had excuses for missing their medication doses, such as they fell asleep or were out of the house," said lead researcher John Flaherty. "So it seemed they felt they'd be OK but didn't want to deal with the medication."
Because the study was relatively small, larger research projects are needed to confirm the findings, Flaherty said.