DOI: 10.4103/ijstd.ijstd_28_20 ISSN: 2589-0557

Anti-retroviral therapy adherence in India (2012-18): A systematic review and meta-analysis

Saurav Basu, Yamini Marimuthu, Suneela Garg, Velusamy Saravanakumar, Balasubramanian Ganesh
  • Infectious Diseases
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Dermatology



India has 2.1 million people living with HIV/AIDS (PLHIV). The objective of this study was to ascertain the extent of anti-retroviral therapy (ART) adherence and reasons for nonadherence among PLHIV in India.


We conducted a systematic review and meta-analysis using the following criteria: (1) Observational or experimental studies conducted in India and (2) English language studies. Published during January 2012–June 2018 with data collection during the same period (3). 95% ART adherence rate (primary outcome). We reviewed bibliographic databases (PubMed, Scopus) and extracted relevant data. The forest plot was used to display the meta-analysis results. Analyses were performed in Stata 14 using the “Metaprop_one” function.


A total of 511 records were identified after removing duplicates, 59 full-texts were screened of which 15 studies were included in the meta-analysis. Only one study was conducted in rural India, with <95% adherence reported by all its participants. The PLHIV reported several reasons for their ART nonadherence including forgetfulness (8/15), running out of pills (3/15), distance from the health center and associated travel (2/15), alcohol abuse (3/15), concealment of HIV status from family (2/15, felt stigma (2/15), depressive symptoms (2/15), and fear of side-effects (2/15). The overall pooled estimate of ART adherence was 54.1% (95% confidence interval [CI] 27%–81%), while among facility-based studies, the ≥95% adherence rate was significant higher. 62% (95% CI 46%–0.78%).


Despite the universal provision of free of cost ART to all PLHIV in government health facilities in India, suboptimal adherence to treatment persists in nearly half of these patients.

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