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Open Access Highly Accessed Research article

Factors associated with suboptimal adherence to antiretroviral therapy in Viet Nam: a cross-sectional study using audio computer-assisted self-interview (ACASI)

Hoa M Do1*, Michael P Dunne2, Masaya Kato3, Cuong V Pham1 and Kinh V Nguyen4

Author Affiliations

1 Hanoi School of Public Health, Hanoi, Viet Nam

2 Queensland University of Technology, School of Public Health, Brisbane, Australia

3 World Health Organization Representative Office in Viet Nam, Hanoi, Viet Nam

4 National Hospital for Tropical Diseases, Hanoi, Viet Nam

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BMC Infectious Diseases 2013, 13:154  doi:10.1186/1471-2334-13-154

Published: 27 March 2013



Optimal adherence to antiretroviral therapy (ART) is necessary for people living with HIV/AIDS (PLHIV). There have been relatively few systematic analyses of factors that promote or inhibit adherence to antiretroviral therapy among PLHIV in Asia. This study assessed ART adherence and examined factors associated with suboptimal adherence in northern Viet Nam.


Data from 615 PLHIV on ART in two urban and three rural outpatient clinics were collected by medical record extraction and from patient interviews using audio computer-assisted self-interview (ACASI).


The prevalence of suboptimal adherence was estimated to be 24.9% via a visual analogue scale (VAS) of past-month dose-missing and 29.1% using a modified Adult AIDS Clinical Trial Group scale for on-time dose-taking in the past 4 days. Factors significantly associated with the more conservative VAS score were: depression (p < 0.001), side-effect experiences (p < 0.001), heavy alcohol use (p = 0.001), chance health locus of control (p = 0.003), low perceived quality of information from care providers (p = 0.04) and low social connectedness (p = 0.03). Illicit drug use alone was not significantly associated with suboptimal adherence, but interacted with heavy alcohol use to reduce adherence (p < 0.001).


This is the largest survey of ART adherence yet reported from Asia and the first in a developing country to use the ACASI method in this context. The evidence strongly indicates that ART services in Viet Nam should include screening and treatment for depression, linkage with alcohol and/or drug dependence treatment, and counselling to address the belief that chance or luck determines health outcomes.

ACASI; Adherence; Antiretroviral therapy; Depression; Substance use; Viet Nam