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Why Do People Living with HIV Adhere to Antiretroviral Therapy and Not Comorbid Cardiovascular Disease Medications? A Qualitative Inquiry.

Muiruri C, Sico IP, Schexnayder J, Webel AR, Okeke NL, Longenecker CT, Gonzalez JM, Jones KA, Gonzales SE, Bosworth HB. Why Do People Living with HIV Adhere to Antiretroviral Therapy and Not Comorbid Cardiovascular Disease Medications? A Qualitative Inquiry. Patient preference and adherence. 2020 Jun 16; 14:985-994.

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Background: After achieving viral suppression, it is critical for persons living with HIV (PLWH) to focus on prevention of non-AIDS comorbidities such as cardiovascular disease (CVD) in order to enhance their quality of life and longevity of life. Despite PLWH elevated risk of developing CVD compared to individuals without HIV, PLWH do not often meet evidence-based treatment goals for CVD prevention; the reasons for PLWH not meeting guideline recommendations are poorly understood. The objective of this study was to identify the factors associated with adherence to CVD medications for PLWH who have achieved viral suppression. Methods: Qualitative data were obtained from formative research conducted to inform the adaptation of a nurse-led intervention trial to improve cardiovascular health at three large academic medical centers in the United States. Transcripts were analyzed using content analysis guided by principles drawn from grounded theory. Results: Fifty-one individuals who had achieved viral suppression ( < 200 copies/mL) participated: 37 in 6 focus groups and 14 in individual semi-structured interviews. Mean age was 57 years (SD: 7.8); most were African Americans (n = 31) and majority were male (n = 34). Three main themes were observed. First, participants reported discordance between their healthcare providers' recommendations and their own preferred strategies to reduce CVD risk. Second, participants intentionally modified frequency of CVD medication taking which appeared to be related to low CVD risk perception and perceived or experienced side effects with treatment. Finally, participants discussed the impact of long-term experience with HIV care on adherence to CVD medication and motivational factors that enhanced adherence to heart healthy behaviors. Conclusion: Findings suggest that future research should focus on developing interventions to enhance patient-provider communication in order to elicit beliefs, concerns and preferences for CVD prevention strategies. Future research should seek to leverage and adapt established evidence-based practices in HIV care to support CVD medication adherence.

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