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PLoS One. 2009 Sep 22;4(9):e7115. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0007115.

The impact of antiretroviral therapy in a cohort of HIV infected patients going in and out of the San Francisco county jail.

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  • 1Division of Clinical Epidemiology, Division of Infectious Diseases, McGill University Health Center, Montreal, Canada.



Jails are an important venue of HIV care and a place for identification, treatment and referral for care. HIV infected inmates in the San Francisco County jail are offered antiretroviral treatment (ART), which many take only while in jail. We evaluated the effect of ART administration in a cohort of jail inmates going in and out of jail over a nine year period.


In this retrospective study, we examined inmates with HIV going in and out of jail. Inmates were categorized by patterns of ART use: continuous ART - ART both in and out of jail, intermittent ART - ART only in jail; never on ART - eligible by national guidelines, but refused ART. CD4 and HIV viral load (VL) were compared over time in these groups. Over a 9 year period, 512 inmates were studied: 388 (76%) on intermittent ART, 79 (15%) on continuous ART and 45(9%) never-on ART. In a linear mixed model analysis, inmates on intermittent ART were 1.43; 95%CI (1.03, 1.99) times and those never on ART were 2.89; 95%CI (1.71, 4.87) times more likely to have higher VL than inmates on continuous ART. Furthermore, Inmates on intermittent ART and never-on ART lost 1.60; 95%CI (1.06, 2.13) and 1.97; 95%CI (0.96, 3.00) more CD4 cells per month, respectively, compared to continuously treated inmates. The continuous ART inmates gained 0.67CD4 cells/month.


Continuous ART therapy in jail inmate's benefits CD4 cell counts and control of VL especially compared to those who never took ART. Although jail inmates on intermittent ART were more likely to lose CD4 cells and experience higher VL over time than those on continuous ART, CD4 cell loss was slower in these inmates as compared to inmates never on ART. Further studies are needed to evaluate whether or not intermittent ART provides some benefit in outcome if continuous ART is not possible or likely.

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