PloS one 2017 03 0612(3) e0173338 doi 10.1371/journal.pone.0173338
Side effects of antiretroviral therapy (ART) can have a negative impact on health-related quality of life threatening long-term retention in HIV care and adherence to ART. The aim of the French community-based survey EVE was to document personal experiences with side effects, the related physician-patient communication, and solutions found to deal with them.
Cross-sectional study of women between September 2013 to September 2014.
An anonymous online questionnaire included the HIV Symptom Distress Module, which explores 20 symptoms.
In all, 301 women on ART participated in the study (median age: 49 years; median duration of ART: 14 years). They reported having experienced a median of 12 symptoms (Q1-Q3: 9-15) during the previous 12 months. Overall, 56% of them reported having found at least a partial solution to dealing with their symptoms. Women reporting financial difficulties were twice less likely to have found solutions to coping with their side effects (AOR: 0.5; 95% CI: 0.3-0.8). Feeling supported by the health-care provider (AOR: 2.1; 95% CI: 1.1-3.9) and being in contact with HIV/AIDS organisations (AOR: 1.9; 95% CI: 1.2-3.2) were positively associated with coping. Seventeen percent reported having modified their ART regimen to improve tolerance, with only 2 in 3 informing their physician afterwards. Reporting financial difficulties and living with more bothersome symptoms increased the risk of ART regimen modification without health-care provider consultation.
The EVE study has called attention to the large number of side effects experienced by WLWHIV, only half of whom have found self-care strategies to manage their symptoms. Modification of ART regimen by the women themselves was not uncommon.