This exploratory study examined patient-provider communication dynamics regarding adherence to highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART) and protective sexual behavior among people living with HIV/AIDS (PLWHA). We conducted 20 direct observations of routine consultations between PLWHA and care providers in two large public health clinics providing free HIV medications and clinical care to PLWHA in the greater Rio de Janeiro area of Brazil. Immediately after these observations, 20 semistructured in-depth interviews were conducted with observation participants regarding their communication with providers, overall clinic experience, and questions and concerns about adherence to HAART and safe sex. Findings from observations showed that patient-provider communication focused almost exclusively on biomedical aspects of HIV-related treatment such as symptom management. In most observations, adherence to HAART was addressed. However, questions posed by providers regarding adherence were generally close-ended and leading, discouraging an open exchange regarding potential difficulties related to adherence. HIV/sexually transmitted infection (STI)- related protective behaviors were seldom addressed except when the patient displayed STI symptoms or was thought to be pregnant. In qualitative interviews, patients generally reported satisfaction with their providers, but also reported a variety of concerns and challenges related to adherence to HAART and protective sexual behavior that were not expressed in patient-provider interactions. We conclude that one way in which adherence to HAART and protective sexual behavior among PLWHA could be facilitated is by improving patient- provider communication on these topics, including increasing the frequency of openended, nonjudgmental dialogue initiated by care providers.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
- Infectious Diseases