The Atlantic

Why People Don't Take Lifesaving Medications

People are remarkably bad at getting on and sticking with drug regimens—even when those drugs stop AIDS.
Source: Finbarr O'Reilly / Reuters

DURBAN, South Africa—Ronald Louw was a human-rights lawyer and professor at the University of KwaZulu-Natal, the South African province that’s one of the most HIV-affected regions of the world, so he must have known about the dangers of the virus. In April 2005, he was taking care of his mother, who had been diagnosed with cancer, when he noticed he had a cough that would not go away. He went to a doctor, who treated him with antibiotics.

Four weeks later, he got even worse, fighting a fever, night sweats, and disorientation, as his friend and fellow activist Zackie Achmat in a journal article. It was only then that Louw finally went in for an HIV

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