Annals of African Medicine
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Year : 2021  |  Volume : 20  |  Issue : 2  |  Page : 127-131

Perception to hydroxyurea therapy in patients with sickle cell disease: Report from 3 centers

1 Department of Medicine and Community Medicine, College of Health Sciences, Usmanu Danfodiyo University, Renal Centre, Sokoto, Sokoto State, Nigeria
2 Department of Specialist Hospital, Sokoto, Sokoto State, Nigeria
3 Sir Yahaya Memorial Hospital, Birnin Kebbi, Kebbi State, Nigeria
4 Federal Medical Centre, Birnin Kebbi, Kebbi State; Ahmad Sani Yariman Bakura Hospital, Gusau, Zamfara State, Nigeria

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DOI: 10.4103/aam.aam_36_20

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Background: Hydroxyurea (HU) is an hemoglobin F inducing agent used in the treatment of sickle cell disease (SCD). Aim: The aim of this study is to determine the perception of HU by people living with SCD. Materials and Methods: A pretested questionnaire was self-administered to known cases of SCD attending pediatrics and adult hematology clinics in three participating centers. Mothers of children <18 years responded on their behalf. Results: There were 101 responders, 49 (48.5%) males and 52 (51.5%) females, of which 24 (23.8%) were children <18 years and 77 (76.2%) were adults. The majority (n = 73, 72.3%) knew their phenotype. Up to 63 (62.4%) had crises in the past 3 months. Only 35 (34.7%) had heard of HU, many through their doctor (n = 16, 45.7%), 8 (22.9%) through online resources, and 7 (20%) from friends. Only 12 (11.9%) had been exposed to HU therapy, of which 5 (41.7%) had discontinued therapy mostly due to side effects (n = 2, 40%). The seven patients (58.3%) on continuous HU therapy for a duration of 6 months to over 5 years, all reported reduced hospital admissions and frequency of crises as benefits of the drug, whereas 4 (57.1%) had stopped requiring blood transfusion since starting therapy. Of those who had never taken HU, 53 (52.5%) believed that HU should be used in treating SCD and majority (n = 32, 60.4%) would want to be commenced on the drug. However, 8 (15.1%) would decline therapy (mostly due to perceived associated side effects; n = 4; 50%). Six (11.3%) were unsure if they would want the drug and 7 (13.2%) would have to discuss the decision first with their family. There were 8 (8.9%) responders who did not think HU will be beneficial in SCD and would decline treatment, while 26 (29.2%) were unsure of both the benefits of the drug or of commencing therapy. Conclusion: The findings from this study suggest that HU is beneficial for patients with SCD; however, the awareness of this medication among SCD patients is still low in our environment. Some SCD patients would decline the use of HU due to perceived side effects. We recommend that more awareness on HU be created and coordinated multi-center studies on the efficacy of HU in the Nigerian population be carried out.

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