Psychiatric and Social Barriers to HIV Medication Adherence in a Triply Diagnosed Methadone Population

Palmer, Nancy B.; Salcedo, Jesus; Miller, Alec L.; Winiarski, Mark; Arno, Peter
December 2003
AIDS Patient Care & STDs;Dec2003, Vol. 17 Issue 12, p635
Academic Journal
Although antiretrovirals can prolong life, medication adherence also poses a constant challenge for HIV-infected individuals because the success of antiretroviral regimens demands nearly perfect adherence to medications. This paper describes the psychiatric and social barriers to adherence in a convenience sample of HIV-positive clients in methadone treatment in the Bronx, New York. The study sample was part of a national study of HIV treatment adherence and health care utilization among triply diagnosed populations, the HIV/AIDS Treatment Adherence Health Outcomes and Cost Study. The triply diagnosed study sample is defined here as HIV-infected individuals who screened into the study with at least one psychiatric diagnosis in addition to opioid dependence on agonist therapy (methadone treatment) and at least one substance use diagnosis. Interviewers utilized modified versions of the Structured Clinical Interview for DSM-IV Disorders (SCID-I), the Structured Clinical Interview for DSM-IV Axis II Personality Disorders (SCID-II), and the Addiction Severity Index (ASI-Lite), among a battery of Cost Study instruments. Results showed that within this sample, borderline personality disorder was significantly associated with nonadherence to HIV medications. A related finding showed a significant relationship between serious social/family problems and nonadherence. These findings build on previous research on the impact of psychiatric illness on HIV medication adherence and suggest that psychiatric assessment and treatment options be linked to adherence interventions.


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