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JAMA. 1998 Aug 12;280(6):544-6.

Self-reported antiretroviral therapy in injection drug users.

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  • 1Department of Epidemiology, School of Hygiene and Public Health, The Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, MD 21205, USA.



The US Public Health Service and the International AIDS Society-USA recently published recommendations for antiretroviral therapy (ART) for persons infected with human immunodeficiency virus (HIV); however, anecdotal evidence suggests that HIV-infected injection drug users (IDUs) may not be receiving optimal care as defined by the recommendations.


To assess ART use in HIV-infected IDUs.


A cross-sectional survey of self-reported ART use between July 1996 and June 1997 in IDUs.


A community-based clinic affiliated with Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, Md.


A total of 404 HIV-infected IDUs with CD4+ cell counts less than 0.50 x 10(9)/L recruited into a longitudinal study in 1988 and 1989.


Self-reported ART use was assessed: no current therapy, monotherapy, or combination therapy with or without a protease inhibitor.


One half (199/404 [49%]) of patients reported no recent ART. A total of 14% (58/404) had monotherapy, 23% (90/404) were receiving combination therapy without a protease inhibitor, and 14% (57/404) had triple-combination therapy with a protease inhibitor. A multivariate analysis of factors associated with ART showed that care continuity and recent HIV-related outpatient visit (odds ratio [OR], 4.30; 95% confidence interval [CI], 2.36-7.81 and OR, 2.84; 95% CI, 1.66-4.88, respectively), CD4+ cell count of less than 0.20 x 10(9) (OR, 2.41; 95% CI, 1.51-3.84), no current drug use and being in drug treatment (OR, 2.16; 95% CI, 1.34-3.47; OR, 2.12; 95% CI, 1.23-3.66, respectively), and unemployment (OR, 2.31; 95% CI, 1.21-4.40) were associated with reporting ART use. In other analysis, less likely to receive protease inhibitors were current drug injectors (OR, 0.5; 95% CI, 0.3-1.0) and those recently incarcerated (OR, 0.2; 95% CI, 0.03-0.9), but patients with acquired immunodeficiency syndrome were more likely to receive protease inhibitors (OR, 2.0; 95% CI, 0.9-4.6). Protease inhibitor use doubled (P<.01) from July and December 1996 to January and June 1997 (7.7% and 14.8%, respectively).


Those IDUs infected with HIV who were not receiving ART tended to be active drug users without clinical disease who have less contact with health care providers. Although we do not have information on clinical judgment regarding treatment decisions or whether persons were prescribed therapy not taken, the proportion of subjects reporting receiving ART suggests that strategies for improving treatment in this population are indicated. Expanding simultaneous treatment services for HIV infection and substance abuse would enhance the response to these related epidemics.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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