Factors influencing self-management of adults living with HIV on antiretroviral therapy in Northwest Ethiopia: a cross-sectional study

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Background: Effective self-management is an important consideration for adults living with HIV on therapy to enable people to maintain their health and well-being whilst living with chronic HIV. Although numerous attempts have been made to implement and improve HIV self-management practice, there is limited evidence on effective self-management strategies, particularly in sub-Saharan Africa. This study aimed to identify the level and factors influencing the self-management practice of adults living with HIV on antiretroviral therapy. Methods: A cross-sectional survey was conducted on a sample of 415 adults living with HIV on antiretroviral therapy at a major referral hospital in Northwest Ethiopia using convenience sampling. A theory of self-management – the Individual and Family Self-Management Theory - guided the study design, analysis and presentation of the data. A face-to-face survey tool was administered for data collection, and the data were entered and analyzed using SPSS version 25.0. Results: Over half (58.1%) of the respondents were female. Many of the respondents did not know their HIV stage (76.9%) but reported adequate knowledge of their treatment (79.5%). The mean self-management score was 1.94+ 0.22 out of a total score of 3. Female gender was associated with decreased self-management. Contextual factors (gender, educational level, job status, income, living in a rural area, and awareness of HIV stage) explained 8.2% of the variance in self-management. The explanatory power increased by 9.2% when self-management process variables (self-efficacy, setting a goal, knowledge of antiretroviral therapy, HIV disclosure, and use of reminders) were added. Intervention-focused variables (encouraging disclosure and adherence support) increased the proportion of explained variance by 2.3%. Conclusions: The findings of the study indicate that the level of self-management practice amongst the population studied was low compared to international literature. Our study findings support the theoretical model and previously identified factors influencing HIV self-management. The most important predictors of lower self-management practice in Ethiopia were female gender, illiteracy, lack of awareness of HIV stage, low self-efficacy, absence of reminders, lack of encouragement to disclose and absence of adherence support. HIV care providers should seek ways to empower and support adults living with HIV to self-manage, particularly through enhancing self-efficacy and encouraging the use of reminders.

Original languageEnglish
Article number879
Number of pages11
JournalBMC Infectious Diseases
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 23 Nov 2020
Externally publishedYes


  • Adults living with HIV
  • Antiretroviral therapy
  • Individual and family self-management theory
  • Knowledge of HIV treatment
  • Self-efficacy
  • Self-management


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