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Member Research & Reports

Member Research & Reports

Harvard: For Children Born with HIV, Adhering to Medication Gets Harder With Age

Children born with Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) in the U.S. were less likely to adhere to their medications as they aged from preadolescence to adolescence and into young adulthood, according to a new study led by researchers at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. Additionally, the prevalence of detectable viral load — an indication that the virus is not being managed by medications and a factor that’s often associated with nonadherence — also increased with age.

The study is one of the first to examine why different age groups stop adhering to treatment. While the factors related to nonadherence varied by age group, youth who were concerned about side effects of the drugs were less likely to be adherent at most ages.

“As they approach adulthood, many youth face challenges, such as entering new relationships, managing disclosure of their HIV status, and changing to an adult HIV care provider. Ensuring successful HIV medication adherence before and throughout adolescence is critical,” said lead author Dr. Deborah Kacanek, research scientist in Harvard T. H. Chan School of Public Health’s Department of Biostatistics. “We found that the factors that either supported adherence and a suppressed (undetectable) viral load, or made it harder for youth to adhere to treatment, varied depending on their age.”

The study was published online ahead of print in the journal AIDS.

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