Pediatric antiretroviral adherence and child disclosure in Botswana

Beth A Tippett Barr, The University of Texas School of Public Health


The scale-up of antiretrovirals (ARVs) to treat HIV/AIDS in Africa has been rapid over the last five years. Botswana was the first African nation to roll out a comprehensive ARV program, where ARVs are available to all citizens who qualify. Excellent adherence to these ARVs is necessary to maintain HIV suppression and on-going health of all individuals taking them. Children rely almost entirely on their caregivers for the administration of these medications, and very little research has been done to examine the factors which affect both adherence and disclosure to the child of their HIV status. Methods. This cross-sectional study used multiple methods to examine adherence, disclosure, and stigma across various dimensions of the child and caregiver's lives, including 30 caregiver questionnaires, interviewer-administered 3-day adherence recalls, pharmacy pill counts, and chart reviews. Fifty in-depth interviews were conducted with caregivers, male caregivers, teenagers, and health care providers. Results. Perceived family stigma was found to be a predictor of excellent adherence. After controlling for age, children who live with their mothers were significantly less likely to know their HIV status than children living with any other relative (OR=0.403, p=0.014). Children who have a grandmother living in the household or taking care of them each day are significantly more likely to have optimal adherence than children who don't have grandmother involvement in their daily lives. Discussion. Visible illness plays an intermediary role between adherence and perceived family stigma: Caregivers know that ARVs suppress physical manifestations of HIV, and in an effort to avoid unnecessary disclosure of the child's status to family members, therefore have children with excellent adherence. Grandmothers play a vital role in supporting the care and treatment of children in Botswana.

Subject Area

Surgery|Public health

Recommended Citation

Tippett Barr, Beth A, "Pediatric antiretroviral adherence and child disclosure in Botswana" (2006). Texas Medical Center Dissertations (via ProQuest). AAI3259514.