Original Research

Understanding how young people become motivated to take their human immunodeficiency virus medication (antiretroviral therapy) and how the need for adherence is communicated

Warren Hickson, Pat M. Mayers
Health SA Gesondheid | Vol 25 | a1458 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/hsag.v25i0.1458 | © 2020 Warren Hickson, Pat M. Mayers | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 25 March 2020 | Published: 14 December 2020

About the author(s)

Warren Hickson, Department of Public Health and Family Medicine, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Cape Town, Cape Town, South Africa
Pat M. Mayers, Department of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Cape Town, Cape Town, South Africa

Share this article

Bookmark and Share


Background: Antiretroviral therapy (ART), the only effective treatment for human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), requires excellent long-term compliance. Poor levels of adherence to ART, especially amongst adolescents and young adults in South Africa, have been reported.

Aim: This study aimed to explore how young people become motivated to take their HIV medication (ART) and how the need for adherence is communicated.

Setting: The study was conducted in a peri-urban township in the Western Cape, South Africa.

Methods: A qualitative grounded theory approach was employed. Eighty young people were purposively recruited. Participant observation, focus groups and semi-structured interviews were utilised to explore how effective ART adherence messages are in motivating adherence amongst young people and how they would like ART adherence to be communicated to them. All interviews and focus groups were transcribed and analysed by using cross-comparison analysis. Measures to ensure trustworthiness were established and ethical considerations were adhered to.

Results: Young people’s adherence motivation was an outcome of reconnecting to one or more trusted significant other(s) from within their belonging group, who accepted and supported them, which in turn affirmed their prior belonging identities of son, daughter, other family member or close friend. This facilitated reconnection to their present and future hopes, which in turn increased their motivation to live and to adhere to treatment.

Conclusion: The findings highlight the need for the development of more effective communication strategies, which facilitate and support young people’s reconnection to trusted members of their belonging groups, and also help belonging group members to accept, affirm and support adherence.


No related keywords in the metadata.


Total abstract views: 777
Total article views: 368

Crossref Citations

No related citations found.