Medical care for HIV disease may be most effective when medical surveillance and services are initiated early and consistently maintained over time. To benefit from continually improving HIV care regimens, persons living with HIV/AIDS must first adhere to their outpatient medical appointments. The purpose of this study was to examine psychosocial, illness, and demographic factors associated with appointment adherence problems early in HIV treatment. Results indicated that nonadherence to outpatient medical appointments was a significant problem. One hundred forty-four patients were followed for 6 months after their initial appointment at a public HIV clinic. One in five dropped out of treatment before completing their intake assessment (separate nurse and physician appointments). Men and individuals with lower levels of social support were most likely to drop out before seeing a physician. Emotional distress was not associated with early dropout, but elevated levels of anxiety and depression were found across the sample. Those still attending the clinic (n = 114) were then followed for 12 months after clinic enrollment. Overall, 35% of scheduled medical appointments were missed during this period. Higher baseline CD4 counts find injection drug use history were predictive of poor appointment adherence, but other demographic and psychosocial indices were not. These findings suggest increased research and early intervention efforts are needed to improve appointment adherence among persons living with HIV/AIDS.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Social Psychology
- Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
- Infectious Diseases