TEENS WITH HIV NOT TAKING MEDS AS NEEDED
By Douglas Mazanec
Reuters 15 March 2001
New York -- Less than half of adolescents with HIV
are taking their medications as required, increasing the risk both to
themselves and the community, researchers report.
A study of 161 teens infected with HIV found that only 41% were
taking all their medications as required. The report is published in
the February issue of AIDS Care.
"Strict adherence to drug therapy is critical for keeping the virus
suppressed,'' according to one of the study's co-authors, Dr. Craig
Wilson, an associate professor of pediatrics at the University of
Alabama at Birmingham.
"Partial compliance not only allows the virus to multiply, but it
encourages the growth of strains that may be resistant to currently
available drugs,'' he told Reuters Health. "If others become
infected with these new strains, it could create a public health
One of main reasons for such noncompliance appears to be depression.
Of those teens in the study that were depressed, only 29% took their
medications as required.
Authors of the study suggest that healthcare workers may need to
screen for and treat adolescent depression before they can expect
better compliance. Yet depression is not the only suggestive factor
since even among nondepressed teens, only 55% showed full compliance.
The other factor that contributes to poor adherence is the quantity
of pills that those with HIV need to take each day.
"It's not unusual for a patient to have to take three or four
different drugs, three times a day,'' he told Reuters Health. "If
such a regimen is hard for adults to follow, you can imagine the
challenge it poses for less disciplined teenagers.''
This second hurdle to compliance will become lower in the near
future, the researchers suggest, as pharmaceutical companies develop
medications that last longer and combine two drugs in one pill.