Barriers and facilitators for interventions to improve ART adherence in Sub-Saharan African countries: A systematic review and meta-analysis


BACKGROUND: The HIV/AIDS pandemic remains a significant public health issue, with sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) at its epicentre. Although antiretroviral therapy (ART) has been introduced to decrease new infections and deaths, SSA reports the highest incidence of HIV/AIDS, constituting two-thirds of the global new infections. This review aimed to elucidate the predominant barriers and facilitators influencing ART adherence and to identify effective strategies to enhance ART adherence across SSA. METHODS: A comprehensive review was conducted on studies examining barriers to ART adherence and interventions to boost adherence among HIV-positive adults aged 15 and above in SSA, published from January 2010 onwards. The research utilized databases like Medline Ovid, CINAHL, Embase, and Scopus. Included were experimental and quasi-experimental studies, randomized and non-randomized controlled trials, comparative before and after studies, and observational studies such as cross-sectional, cohort, prospective and retrospective studies. Two independent reviewers screened the articles, extracted pertinent data, and evaluated the studies’ methodological integrity using Joanna Briggs Institute’s standardized appraisal tools. The compiled data underwent both meta-analysis and narrative synthesis. RESULTS: From an initial pool of 12,538 papers, 45 were selected (30 for narrative synthesis and 15 for meta-analysis). The identified barriers and facilitators to ART adherence were categorized into seven principal factors: patient-related, health system-related, medication-related, stigma, poor mental health, socioeconomic and socio-cultural-related factors. Noteworthy interventions enhancing ART adherence encompassed counselling, incentives, mobile phone short message service (SMS), peer delivered behavioural intervention, community ART delivery intervention, electronic adherence service monitoring device, lay health worker lead group intervention and food assistance. The meta-analysis revealed a statistically significant difference in ART adherence between the intervention and control groups (pooled OR = 1.56, 95%CI:1.35–1.80, p = <0.01), with evidence of low none statistically significant heterogeneity between studies (I2 = 0%, p = 0.49). CONCLUSION: ART adherence in SSA is influenced by seven key factors. Multiple interventions, either standalone or combined, have shown effectiveness in enhancing ART adherence. To optimize ART’s impact and mitigate HIV’s prevalence in SSA, stakeholders must consider these barriers, facilitators, and interventions when formulating policies or treatment modalities. For sustained positive ART outcomes, future research should target specific underrepresented groups like HIV-infected children, adolescents, and pregnant women in SSA to further delve into the barriers, facilitators and interventions promoting ART adherence.


Buh A, Deonandan R, Gomes J, Krentel A, Oladimeji O, Yaya S




  • Epidemiology and Determinants of Health
    • Epidemiology
    • Determinants of Health
  • Determinants of Health
    • Income
    • Health services
    • Stigma/discrimination
  • Population(s)
    • General HIV+ population
  • Prevention, Engagement and Care Cascade
    • Engagement and Care Cascade
  • Engagement and Care Cascade
    • Treatment


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