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September 03, 2003

Reality check?

Africans Outdo Americans in Following AIDS Therapy:

On average, he said, American patients tell their doctors that they are doing 20 percentage points better than they really are that is, a patient who says he takes 90 percent of his pills will, when tested with unannounced home pill counts or electronic pill-bottle caps, turn out to be taking 70 percent.

A study of 29 Ugandan patients found that, on average, they estimated that they were taking 93 percent of pills and proved to be taking 91 percent.

I wouldn't have predicted this at all. I was wrong, though I've seen another article or two suggesting similar findings in Botswana, so I can't say I'm shocked and surprised. I'm glad I was wrong to some extent-but I wish the Americans weren't so stupid about their medications too. Though, one thing to note is that selection bias might be an issue here-a much bigger cross-section of the populations of these African countries are HIV positive than in the United States or Western Europe.

Posted by razib at 12:13 AM

The NY Times is always anxious to tsk-tsk the public for being latent racists, so they jump on the thinest fact when possible. This is just very sloppy reporting. AIDS cocktails in the US require a couple dozen tablets in various specific combination throughout the day. In Africa they simplified the dosage so that you just have to take 2 tablets each day. This fact is buried in their article. It is inevitable that the Africans would show better compliance in this circumstance.

Posted by: eric f at September 3, 2003 07:44 AM

Andrew Sullivan has some interesting critical comments on this story posted to his blog today.

Posted by: Vinteuil at September 3, 2003 08:57 AM