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Education and Support Help Patients Better Follow HIV Treatment

Armen Hareyan's picture

HIV Treatment

Practical advice and individualized attention can help people with HIV stick to a consistent drug regimen, according to a new review of studies.

The studies were too different to combine results, but the review team found that the most successful programs emphasized "practical medicine management," one-on-one attention or a 12-week or longer duration.

Today's powerful antiretroviral drug combinations work best when patients follow doctor's orders, but many patients struggle to adhere to a strict medication schedule.

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The review examined 19 studies that tested different patient education and support strategies.

"A one time visit probably is not going to do it. You need multiple visits over a period of time with someone who can talk to you about your individual needs," said, study author Richard Glazier, a family doctor at St. Michael's Hospital in Toronto.

He said practical medicine management was associated with better outcomes than strategies that took a psychological tack by providing cognitive behavior therapy or motivational interviews.

The review appears in the current issue of The Cochrane Library, a publication of The Cochrane Collaboration, an international organization that evaluates research in all aspects of health care. Systematic reviews draw evidence-based conclusions about medical practice after considering both the content and quality of existing trials on a topic.

Drug adherence is a problem in all of health care, Glazier said. "It has to do with not remembering every day. The phenomenon is the same among people with diabetes, high blood pressure, cholesterol or HIV. People don't take all their doses because they are distracted, because they have