Interventions to increase antiretroviral adherence in sub-Saharan Africa: A systematic review of evaluation studies


The success of potent antiretroviral treatment (ART) for HIV infection is primarily determined by the level of medication adherence. We systematically review the evidence on effectiveness of interventions to enhance ART adherence in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA), where four fifths of the more than five million people receiving ART live. We identified 26 relevant publications reporting on 25 studies, conducted between 2003 and 2010, of behavioural, cognitive, biological, structural, and combination interventions. The majority (16) of the studies took place in hospital outpatient facilities in urban settings. Studies differed widely in design, sample size, length of follow-up, and outcome measurement. Despite study diversity and limitations, the evidence to date suggest that treatment supporters, directly observed therapy, cell phone short message services, diary cards and food rations and can be effective in increasing adherence in some settings in SSA. However, our synthesis of studies also shows that some interventions are unlikely to produce large or lasting effects, while other interventions are effective in some but not in other settings, emphasizing the need for more research, in particular, RCTs, to allow examination of the influence of context and particular features of intervention content on effectiveness. Important avenues for future work include intervention targeting and selection of interventions based on behavioural theories relevant to SSA.


Bärnighausen T, Chaiyachati K, Chimbindi N, Peoples A, Haberer J, Newell ML.




  • Population(s)
    • General HIV+ population
  • Engagement and Care Cascade
    • Treatment


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