n New Voices in Psychology - Exploring the experiences of adolescents on highly active antiretroviral therapy in Tembisa : a pilot study

Volume 12 Number 2
  • ISSN : 1812-6731



This study was aimed at exploring the experiences of adolescents who are on long-term Highly Active Antiretroviral Therapy (HAART) treatment in Tembisa, Gauteng province. The study is based on a qualitative research method using in-depth semi-structured open-ended interviews and a focus group for data collection. The sample consisted of three adolescents as this was a pilot study. Thematic data analysis method was used to analyse data. The study findings cover the negative and positive experiences and the perceived role of HAART treatment over a longer period of time. The predominant themes identified from participants were disclosure of HIV-positive status and the stigma surrounding a positive status, early childhood experience of parental death, challenges of taking HAART treatment, factors influencing adherence and non-adherence to HAART treatment, and lastly, the impact of religion on HAART treatment adherence. The findings suggest that adolescents who are on HAART treatment over an extended period of time experience drug fatigue. Drug fatigue has far-reaching implications for the health of adolescents, as it has a higher likelihood that poor adherence or even complete refusal to take HAART treatment will occur. Poor adherence or refusal to take HAART treatment will most likely lead to cross infection and further spread of HIV and AIDS. A recommendation was made to include the establishment of a youth and adolescent-friendly centre by the hospital – one that is designated for the provision of tailored adolescent services and sensitive to adolescent developmental stages so as to minimise the likelihood of infected adolescents falling through the healthcare cracks. The introduction of a hospital-based school, an education unit run by dedicated and qualified facilitators focusing on aiding hospitalised learners with catch-up scholarly programmes, was a further recommendation.

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