Adherence to highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART) is essential to improving the quality of life of people living with HIV/AIDS; however, it still remains a challenge especially for young African women. The purpose of the study was to explore how young women with HIV/AIDS in Uganda experience the influence of their everyday life occupations on adherence to HAART after more than 1 year on the medication.
Narratives of six participants were elicited using two semistructured interviews within a period of 1 month. Narrative analysis was used to develop themes reflecting the participants' stories of coping with everyday activities.
The participants described their adherence to HAART in relation to everyday life occupations as a “tug of war”, which describes the struggles they had taking medication because they were afraid of being discriminated by peers and the general society. They also expressed fear of not being included in many activities if people knew they have HIV/AIDS because there are many beliefs associated with the illness especially for young women in which they are branded promiscuous. However, in the Ugandan culture, women are considered to be home makers, which restricted their activities mostly around domestic work making it hard for them to prioritize their medication, and when they young women prioritized, it was all about fun activities that seemed to consume much time, hence contributing to the poor adherence. It is therefore important to assess the everyday occupations of young women before they start taking medication, so that HAART is scheduled in accordance with their everyday life occupation to reduce poor adherence.
The implications of the study on practice is that it will enable occupational therapists working with persons with HIV/AIDS develop age-specific activities taking into consideration HAART as an everyday life activity rather than one that needs to be incorporated into their already existing activities, hence improving their adherence and reducing on stigma associated to the medication. Copyright © 2012 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.