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Improving Coping Skills for Self-management of Treatment Side Effects Can Reduce Antiretroviral Medication Nonadherence among People Living with HIV



Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) treatment side effects have a deleterious impact on treatment adherence, which is necessary to optimize treatment outcomes including morbidity and mortality.


To examine the effect of the Balance Project intervention, a five-session, individually delivered HIV treatment side effects coping skills intervention on antiretroviral medication adherence.


HIV+ men and women (N = 249) on antiretroviral therapy (ART) with self-reported high levels of ART side effect distress were randomized to intervention or treatment as usual. The primary outcome was self-reported ART adherence as measured by a combined 3-day and 30-day adherence assessment.


Intent-to-treat analyses revealed a significant difference in rates of nonadherence between intervention and control participants across the follow-up time points such that those in the intervention condition were less likely to report nonadherence. Secondary analyses revealed that intervention participants were more likely to seek information about side effects and social support in efforts to cope with side effects.


Interventions focusing on skills related to ART side-effects management show promise for improving ART adherence among persons experiencing high levels of perceived ART side effects.

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