Treatment perceptions and attitudes of older human immunodeficiency virus-infected adults.Res Social Adm Pharm. 2005 Mar; 1(1):60-76.RS
To apply the Health Belief Model (HBM) in assessing the association of health beliefs, perceived benefits, perceived barriers, alternative therapy use, and sexual risk behaviors in relation to the treatment of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) in a group of older HIV-infected patients.
A convenience sample of 100 older (50 years and above) HIV-infected patients in 2 Washington, DC, clinics was enrolled. A cross-sectional methodology used structured interviews to investigate the association among antiretroviral adherence, use of alternative therapies, treatment perceptions, and risk behaviors. Student t tests were conducted to examine significant relationships between HBM perceptions and demographic characteristics. Logistic regressions were conducted to assess likelihood of antiretroviral and alternative therapy use.
The majority of the participants were black and had a high school education. Although participants believed that HIV was a severe disease, they did not perceive themselves to be susceptible to early progression to acquired immunodeficiency syndrome. Participants believed that antiretrovirals were beneficial, and they were not particularly burdened by perceived costs of antiretrovirals. The perceived costs (or barriers) of antiretrovirals were inversely associated with CD4 count (r=-0.25, P=.01) and positively associated with viral load (r=0.33, P < .01). Overall 21% of patients in this population indicated use of alternative therapies. Patients who tended to have a higher perception of severity of HIV and a higher perceived burden in using antiretrovirals were more likely to use alternative therapy. There was no difference in HBM perceptions among antiretroviral users and nonusers.
In general, the benefits of taking antiretrovirals were clear to most patients, and the same patients did not view access to antiretrovirals as a significant barrier to treatment. Many patients, although aware of the severity of HIV disease, were not seeking modifications to sexual behavior. Furthermore, the actual medication-taking behavior of these patients resulted in significant impacts to their clinical status. Study results can be applied in the development of specific interventions that are intended to decrease HIV transmission among older adults and to improve medication-taking behavior among those who are already infected with HIV.