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      Symptoms experienced by HIV-infected Individuals on antiretroviral therapy in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa

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          Symptom management in HIV/AIDS is a critical issue that influences the quality of life of those living with the disease. Although the goals of treating the numbers living with HIV/AIDS have not yet been achieved, availability of antiretroviral therapies (ARVs) has been expanded to many clinical settings in KwaZulu-Natal, the epicenter of HIV infection in South Africa. The South African Department of Health (2007) estimates indicate that 5.54 million South Africans are living with HIV/AIDS, whereas UNAIDS (2007) estimates suggest that 18.8% of the population in South Africa is affected. Because the symptom experience may influence adherence to ARVs and quality of life, this study focused on the prevalence of symptoms reported by patients (N = 149) diagnosed with HIV/AIDS and adherence to medications and appointments. Self-report data were obtained from this community-based sample of HIV-infected patients who received care in outpatient clinics in Durban, KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa. With an average of three side effects, the most frequently reported by the study participants were fatigue/tiredness (41%), rashes (40%), headaches (32%), insomnia (31%), sadness (24%), disturbing dreams (23%), numbness (22%), pain (22%), and self-appearance (20%). On a scale of 1 to 10 (10 being worst possible), those with symptoms reported an average intensity of 4.2 (SD = 2.0), and the degree to which symptoms affected activity levels was 3.2 (SD = 2.2). Although intensity of symptoms and effects on activity levels were strongly correlated (r = .78, p < .001), there were no significant relationships between adherence and the intensity of symptoms or the relationship of symptoms with activity levels. Logistic regression analyses indicate that the presence of a greater number of symptoms was not associated with greater adherence (odds ratio = 2.27, 95% confidence interval = 0.60-8.70, ns). However, those who reported higher adherence were 1.5 times more likely to report greater physical health than low adherers (p = .04). High adherers were also 1.6 times more likely to report greater psychological health than low adherers (p = .03). This suggests that further study is needed to investigate adherence motivations for those living with HIV/AIDS in South Africa because adherence seems not to be linked to the frequency of symptoms or limitations on activity related to symptoms. Copyright © 2011 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

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          Applied Nursing Research
          Applied Nursing Research
          Elsevier BV
          February 2011
          February 2011
          : 24
          : 1
          : 1-9
          © 2011


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