Sigma Research

The impact of combination therapy on the lives of people with HIV - a pilot study

Duration: August 1997 - March 1998

This study arose from a concern that while anti-HIV combination therapies had changed the lives of many people with HIV and offered hope to many more, our understanding of the diversity of personal and social problems faced by people with HIV was very limited. The study explored the needs of people with HIV, the choices they faced and especially the demands of maintaining combination therapy. Specifically it described their experience in starting combination therapy, managing the treatment regimen over time and dealing with the costs and benefits that therapy could bring.

The specific aims of the study were:

  • To identify the factors that influence decision-making about starting therapies.
  • To document changes in the lives of people who start therapies.
  • To describe the impact of combination therapies on the service use and needs of people successfully taking them.

In-depth, face-to-face semi-structured interviews were conducted with 40 people with HIV (25 gay men, 11 African females and 4 African males). All respondents had been taking combination anti-HIV therapy (two drugs or more) for a minimum of 4 months. The report used case studies and direct quotes from respondents to illustrate its findings.

The study demonstrated that there was no single distinctive experience of using anti-HIV combination therapies. Even among those that had responded well to the treatments and had minimal problems with the regimen, there was no straightforward way of describing the impact on their lives. However fundamental physical well-being may be to sustaining life, individual lives are shaped and driven by many other forces. The difference that a change in health makes on individual lives cannot, therefore be predicted.

The final report is now out of print. It was called The impact of combination therapies on the lives of people with HIV.

Key contact: Peter Weatherburn

Tagged under: All living with HIV