Original Research

The use of illustrated medication diaries to improve outcomes for children initiated on highly active antiretroviral therapy

Yashodhara Kannigan, Kevin B. Spicer, Fathima Naby
Southern African Journal of HIV Medicine | Vol 19, No 1 | a804 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/sajhivmed.v19i1.804 | © 2018 Yashodhara Kannigan, Kevin Spicer, Fathima Naby | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 10 October 2017 | Published: 23 May 2018

About the author(s)

Yashodhara Kannigan, Department of Paediatrics and Child Health, Nelson R. Mandela School of Medicine, University of KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa
Kevin B. Spicer, Department of Paediatrics and Child Health, Nelson R. Mandela School of Medicine, University of KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa and Department of Paediatrics and Child Health, Pietermaritzburg Metropolitan Hospital Complex, South Africa
Fathima Naby, Department of Paediatrics and Child Health, Nelson R. Mandela School of Medicine, University of KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa and Department of Paediatrics and Child Health, Pietermaritzburg Metropolitan Hospital Complex, South Africa


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Abstract

Background: Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) represents a huge burden of disease in South Africa. Highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART) is effective in reducing HIV-related morbidity and mortality. Simple, inexpensive methods like adherence diaries to optimise effects of HAART would be useful.

Methods: This quasi-experimental study was performed at a paediatric antiretroviral clinic in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa. Children, from birth to 15 years, initiated on HAART from 01 August 2015 to 31 July 2016 were given illustrated medication diaries to be completed by caregivers. Viral load suppression and improvement in growth parameters and CD4+ percentage were determined at six months and one year. These outcomes were compared to those of a group of children who had been initiated on HAART from 01 August 2014 to 31 July 2015 and who had not received diaries.

Results: Ninety-nine children were included in the historical control group and 35 children in the intervention group. Viral load suppression (HIV-1 RNA of < 400 copies/mL) was 72% in the control group and 71% in the diary group at 6 months (p = 0.6). At 12 months, 73% of children in the control group and 57% of the diary group had suppressed viral loads (p = 0.18). At 6 months, 63% of children in the control group and 57% of the diary group had improved weight for height z-scores (p = 0.09). At 12 months, when compared with baseline weight for height z-scores, there was improvement in 34% and 41% of the control and diary groups, respectively (p = 0.6). CD4+ percentages improved in 51% of the control group and 50% of the diary group at 6 months (p = 0.70); improvement was noted in 44% and 49%, respectively, at 12 months (p = 0.33).

Conclusion: The addition of an illustrated medication diary to routine adherence counselling did not improve outcomes for children initiated on HAART.


Keywords

human immunodefiency virus; highly active antiretroviral therapy; adherence; medication diary

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