Send to

Choose Destination
Antivir Ther. 2004 Oct;9(5):713-9.

Initiating highly active antiretroviral therapy and continuity of HIV care: the impact of incarceration and prison release on adherence and HIV treatment outcomes.

Author information

Centre for Health Evaluation and Outcome Sciences, St Paul's Hospital, University of British Columbia, BC, Canada.



To examine the effect of incarceration within 12 months of initiating highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART) on non-adherence and HIV-1 RNA suppression.


We compared the adherence and virological outcomes among participants in a population-based HIV/AIDS Drug Treatment Program in British Columbia, Canada, by history of incarceration in a provincial prison. Participants who were HIV-infected, naive to HAART and who were prescribed treatment between 1 July 1997 and 1 March 2002 were eligible for this study. Logistic regression was used to determine the factors associated with non-adherence and Cox proportional hazards modelling was used to determine the factors associated with HIV-1 RNA suppression adjusting for age, gender, history of drug use, baseline HIV-1 RNA, baseline CD4 cell count, type of antiretroviral regimen [two nucleosides + protease inhibitor (PI) vs two nucleosides + non-nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitor (NNRTI)], physician's HIV-related experience for each subject and adherence as measured by pharmacy refill compliance.


There were 1746 subjects (101 incarcerated/1645 non-incarcerated) who started antiretroviral therapy between 1 July 1997 and 1 March 2002. Of those incarcerated, 50 initiated HAART while in prison and 27 subjects were released but returned to prison in the follow-up period. Subjects received antiretroviral therapy while incarcerated for a median number of 4 months [interquartile range (IQR): 2-10]. Multiple logistic regression results showed that a history of incarceration within 12 months of initiating HAART independently increased the odds of non-adherence [adjusted odds ratio (AOR): 2.40; 95% confidence interval (95% CI): 1.54-3.75]. A history of injected drug use was also associated with non-adherence (AOR: 1.49; 95% CI: 1.17-1.90). The following factors were negatively associated with non-adherence: older age (AOR: 0.81; 95% CI: 0.72-0.91), male sex (AOR: 0.50; 95% CI: 0.38-0.65) and higher physician HIV-related experience (AOR: 0.97; 95% CI: 0.96-0.98). In addition, a history of incarceration within 12 months of initiating HAART reduced the odds of achieving HIV-1 RNA suppression [adjusted hazards ratio (AHR): 0.68; 95% CI: 0.51-0.89]. Other factors negatively associated with viral suppression included a history of drug injection (AHR: 0.79; 95% CI: 0.69-0.91), two nucleosides + PI vs two nucleosides + NNRTI (AHR: 0.77; 95% CI: 0.69-0.87), higher baseline HIV-1 RNA (AHR: 0.66; 95% CI: 0.62-0.70). Higher adherence was positively associated with viral suppression (AHR: 1.38; 95% CI: 1.34-1.42). Among the 101 subjects who were incarcerated in the first year of starting HAART, the time spent in jail was positively associated with HIV-1 RNA suppression (HR: 1.06; 95% CI: 1.02-1.10).


HIV-infected subjects with a history of incarceration within 12 months of initiating HAART have higher odds of non-adherence and, consequently, lower probability of achieving HIV-1 RNA suppression. The longer their sentence, however, the higher the probability of virological suppression. The British Columbian provincial prison system provided a structured setting for HAART but subjects are unable to continue this level of adherence upon release. Strategies to ensure continuation of HIV/AIDS care for HIV-infected individuals leaving the criminal justice system must be a public health priority.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

Supplemental Content

Loading ...
Support Center