Effect of Digital Adherence Tools on Adherence to Antiretroviral Treatment Among Adults Living With HIV in Kilimanjaro, Tanzania: A Randomized Controlled Trial.

Sumari-de Boer IM1, Ngowi KM1, Sonda TB1, Pima FM1, Masika Bpharm LV2, Sprangers MAG3, Reiss P4, Mmbaga BT1, Nieuwkerk PT3, Aarnoutse RE5
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Lifelong adherence to antiretroviral treatment remains challenging for people living with HIV (PLHIV). The aim of this study was to investigate whether any of 2 digital adherence tools could improve adherence among PLHIV in Kilimanjaro, Tanzania.


We performed a parallel 3-arm, nonblinded, randomized controlled trial with 1:1:1 allocation. We included adults aged between 18 and 65 years, living in Kilimanjaro region, and who were on antiretroviral treatment for at least 6 months. Their adherence, as judged by the study nurses, had to be suboptimal. In one arm, participants received reminder short message service (SMS) texts, followed by a question SMS. In the second arm, participants received a real-time medication monitoring (RTMM) device (Wisepill) with SMS reminders. In the third arm, participants received standard care only. The primary outcome of mean adherence over 48 weeks was compared between arms using between-group t tests in a modified intention-to-treat analysis.


In each arm, we randomized 83 participants: data of 82 participants in the RTMM arm, 80 in the SMS arm, and 81 in the standard care arm were analyzed. The average (over 48 weeks) adherence in the SMS, RTMM, and control arms was 89.6%, 90.6%, and 87.9% for pharmacy refill; 95.9%, 95.0%, and 95.2% for self-report in the past week; and 97.5%, 96.6%, and 96.9% for self-report in the past month, respectively (P values not statistically significant).


Receiving reminder SMS or RTMM combined with feedback about adherence levels and discussion of strategies to overcome barriers to adherence did not improve adherence to treatment and treatment outcome in PLHIV.