Hospital-based directly observed therapy for HIV-infected children and adolescents to assess adherence to antiretroviral medications

Daniel Glikman, Linda Walsh, Judy Valkenburg, P. Daisy Mangat, John F. Marcinak

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

23 Scopus citations


BACKGROUND. The introduction of highly active antiretroviral therapy for HIV led to significant declines in HIV-associated morbidity and mortality in children. Nonadherence to antiretroviral therapy is the leading cause of treatment failure in HIV-infected patients. The ability to recognize nonadherence is suboptimal, and differentiating it from other causes of inadequate viral suppression may be diffi-cult. OBJECTIVES. The purpose of this work was to examine the efficacy of hospital-based directly observed therapy in assessing adherence to antiretroviral medications in HIV-infected children and adolescents suspected of nonadherence and failing other interventions. METHODS. The medical charts of all HIV-infected patients admitted to the University of Chicago Comer Children's Hospital for directly observed therapy from July 2004 to June 2006 were reviewed. Patients were hospitalized for 7 days. Data collected included demographics, clinical and immune class category, previous and current antiretroviral medications, viral resistance tests, HIV-1 RNA viral load, and CD4+ T-cell number and percentage before and after directly observed therapy. RESULTS. There were 9 perinatally infected patients with a total of 13 admissions. The median age was 13 years, and 8 had been treated with multiple antiretroviral regimens. Three common patterns of changes in the viral load over time were observed. In the first, the viral load dropped at the end of the directly observed therapy period and stayed low thereafter. In the second, the drop in the viral load seen at the end of the period was not sustained. In the third, there was no change in the viral load during or after the directly observed therapy period. Compared with the viral load at admission, the viral load at the end of directly observed therapy was lower in 8 patients with a mean ± SD decrease of 0.8 ± 0.55 log10 copies per mL. CONCLUSIONS. Short, hospital-based directly observed therapy was helpful in confirming nonadherence to antiretroviral medications, therefore impacting future therapeutic decisions in HIV-infected children and adolescents. Short, hospital-based directly observed therapy should be considered in patients with poor virological control for whom outpatient interventions have failed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)e1142-e1148
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 2007
Externally publishedYes


  • Adherence
  • Adolescents
  • Children
  • Directly observed therapy
  • HIV


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