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AIDS. 2001 Nov 9;15(16):2109-17.

Effect of adherence to newly initiated antiretroviral therapy on plasma viral load.

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Division of Infectious Diseases, Department of Medicine, University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 19104-6021, USA.



To determine whether differences in adherence to newly initiated antiretroviral therapy exist between subjects who do and do not achieve undetectable plasma viral loads.


Observational cohort study monitoring adherence and virological and immunological parameters over the initial 4 months of therapy with nelfinavir. Adherence was measured using the microelectronic monitoring system (MEMS; APREX Corporation, Menlo Park, California, USA).


General Clinical Research Center at a tertiary care center.


Forty-one protease inhibitor-naive subjects with viral loads > 10 000 copies/ml newly starting a regimen including nelfinavir, referred from HIV clinics in Philadelphia.


The primary outcome was undetectable viral load (< 50 copies/ml) after 4 months. Secondary measures included changes in viral load and CD4 cell counts. We hypothesized that adherence would be greater in subjects who achieved undetectable viral loads.


Adherence was greater in undetectable subjects, who took a median of 93% of prescribed doses [interquartile range (IQR) 84-96%], whereas detectable subjects took a median of 70% (IQR 46-93%). Adherence correlated with viral load decrease (Spearman's rho = 0.38, P < 0.01) and CD4 cell count increase (Spearman's rho = 0.25, P = 0.06). Despite differences between the groups over 4 months of therapy, there were no adherence differences over the first month [undetectables, 95% (IQR 88-98%) versus detectables, 94% (IQR 87-98%), P > 0.50].


Adherence is important in determining whether or not individuals achieve suppression with a newly initiated antiretroviral regimen. Adherence begins to wane after the first month of therapy. Therefore, closer assessment of adherence particularly after this first month is important.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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