Pills, PrEP, and Pals: Adherence, Stigma, Resilience, Faith and the Need to Connect Among Minority Women With HIV/AIDS in a US HIV Epicenter

Lunthita Duthely, Alex P. Sanchez-Covarrubias, Megan R. Brown, Tanya E. Thomas, Emily K. Montgomerie, Sannisha Dale, Steven A. Safren, Jo Nell E. Potter

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Ending HIV/AIDS in the United States requires tailored interventions. This study is part of a larger investigation to design mCARES, a mobile technology-based, adherence intervention for ethnic minority women with HIV (MWH). Objective: To understand barriers and facilitators of care adherence (treatment and appointment) for ethnic MWH; examine the relationship between these factors across three ethnic groups; and, explore the role of mobile technologies in care adherence. Methods: Cross-sectional, mixed-methods data were collected from a cohort of African-American, Hispanic-American and Haitian-American participants. Qualitative data were collected through a focus group (n = 8) to assess barriers and facilitators to care adherence. Quantitative data (n = 48) surveyed women on depressive symptomology (PHQ-9), HIV-related stigma (HSS) and resiliency (CD-RISC25). We examined the relationships between these factors and adherence to treatment and care and across groups. Findings: Qualitative analyses revealed that barriers to treatment and appointment adherence were caregiver-related stressors (25%) and structural issues (25%); routinization (30%) and religion/spirituality (30%) promoted adherence to treatment and care. Caregiver role was both a hindrance (25%) and promoter (20%) of adherence to treatment and appointments. Quantitatively, HIV-related stigma differed by ethnic group; Haitian-Americans endorsed the highest levels while African-Americans endorsed the lowest. Depression correlated to stigma (R = 0.534; p < 0.001) and resiliency (R = −0.486; p < 0.001). Across ethnic groups, higher depressive symptomology and stigma were related to viral non-suppression (p < 0.05)—a treatment adherence marker; higher resiliency was related to viral suppression. Among Hispanic-Americans, viral non-suppression was related to depression (p < 0.05), and among African-Americans, viral suppression was related to increased resiliency (p < 0.04). Conclusion: Multiple interrelated barriers to adherence were identified. These findings on ethnic group-specific differences underscore the importance of implementing culturally-competent interventions. While privacy and confidentiality were of concern, participants suggested additional intervention features and endorsed the use of mCARES as a strategy to improve adherence to treatment and appointments.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number667331
JournalFrontiers in Public Health
StatePublished - Jun 21 2021


  • adherence
  • minority health and mental health
  • mixed methods
  • mobile health
  • women and HIV

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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