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01.12.2018 | Research article | Ausgabe 1/2018 Open Access

BMC Geriatrics 1/2018

Polypharmacy among HIV positive older adults on anti-retroviral therapy attending an urban clinic in Uganda

BMC Geriatrics > Ausgabe 1/2018
Michael Ssonko, Fiona Stanaway, Harriet K. Mayanja, Tabitha Namuleme, Robert Cumming, John L. Kyalimpa, Yvonne Karamagi, Barbara Mukasa, Vasi Naganathan
Wichtige Hinweise

Electronic supplementary material

The online version of this article (https://​doi.​org/​10.​1186/​s12877-018-0817-0) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
This paper was submitted for presentation in poster format at the 21st International Association of Gerontology and Geriatrics world congress in San Francisco, California, July 2017.



Polypharmacy has not been investigated in patients living with HIV in developing countries. The aims of this study were to determine the prevalence of polypharmacy, the factors associated with polypharmacy and whether polypharmacy was associated with adverse effects among older adults on anti-retroviral therapy (ART).


Cross-sectional study in older adults aged 50 and over on ART attending an outpatient HIV/AIDS care centre in Uganda. Demographic and clinical data collected on number and type of medications plus supplements, possible medication related side-effects, comorbidity, frailty, cognitive impairment, current CD4 count and viral load.


Of 411 participants, 63 (15.3, 95% C.I. 11.9, 18.8) had polypharmacy (≥ 4 non- HIV medications). In multivariate analyses, polypharmacy was associated with one or more hospitalisations in the last year (Prevalence Ratio PR = 1.8, 95% C.I. 1.1, 3.1, p = 0.02), prescription by an internist (PR = 3.6, 95% C.I. 1.3, 10.5, p = 0.02) and frailty index scores of 5 to 6 (PR = 10.6, 95% C.I. 1.4, 78, p = 0.02), and 7 or more (PR = 17.4, 95% C.I. 2.4, 126.5, p = 0.005). Polypharmacy was not associated with frequency and severity of possible medication related side effects and falls.


Polypharmacy is common among older HIV infected patients in sub-Saharan Africa. It’s more prevalent among frail people, who have been in hospital in the last year and who have been seen by an internist. We found no evidence that polypharmacy results in any harm but this is worth exploring further.
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