Virological failure and adherence to antiretroviral therapy in adolescents and young adults living with human immunodeficiency virus


Objective: HIV (human immunodeficiency virus) infection remains a major public health challenge. Infected young people at any age are less likely to adhere to care in a timely manner and to maintain a suppressed VL. This review aims to identify factors associated with virologic failure and adherence to drug therapy in adolescents and young adults (10-24 years) living with HIV.

Methods: Systematic review using the PubMed and Virtual Health Library databases and including articles published between 2009 and 2021. Data were analysed in six categories: individual factors, pharmacological/therapy-related aspects, factors related to HIV/acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS) infection, HIV/AIDS stigma, social support and health system/services. The study’s protocol was registered on the PROSPERO platform (CRD42020167581).

Results: A total of 19,819 articles were found in the initial search and 31 studies were included in this systematic review. Most studies were carried out on the African continent. Male sex, alcohol use, low education, adverse effects of medication, lack of social support, stigma related to HIV/AIDS, need for transportation to access the health service and forgetfulness were linked to poor adherence to therapy. Good adherence was achieved with sufficient nutrition, good social support, greater confidence in the use of therapy and fewer ART side effects. Low levels of CD4, alcohol use, substance abuse, low education, non-adherence to medication and forgetfulness were linked to virological failure.

Conclusion: Individual, social and structural factors constitute barriers to adherence to ART among adolescent and young adults. It is necessary to know the difficulties related to the use of therapy to work out specific strategies that create conditions to improve medication adherence and viral suppression, reducing the levels of virological failure in this population.


Daltro ACB, Almeida CS, Unfried AGC, de Aquino TR, Travassos AGA




  • Epidemiology and Determinants of Health
    • Determinants of Health
  • Determinants of Health
    • Food security
    • Education
    • Social support
    • Health services
    • Stigma/discrimination
  • Population(s)
    • Children or Youth (less than 18 years old)
    • General HIV+ population
  • Prevention, Engagement and Care Cascade
    • Engagement and Care Cascade
  • Engagement and Care Cascade
    • Treatment
  • Substance Use
    • Alcohol


Abstract/Full paper

Email 1 selected articles

Email 1 selected articles

Error! The email wasn't sent. Please try again.

Your email has been sent!