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Am J Epidemiol. 2013 Feb 1;177(3):256-63. doi: 10.1093/aje/kws324. Epub 2013 Jan 9.

Estimating the efficacy of preexposure prophylaxis for HIV prevention among participants with a threshold level of drug concentration.

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Vaccine and Infectious Disease Division, Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, Seattle, WA 98109, USA.


Assays for detecting levels of antiretroviral drugs in study participants are increasingly popular in preexposure prophylaxis (PrEP) trials, since they provide an objective measure of adherence. Current correlation analyses of drug concentration data are prone to bias. In this article, we formulate the causal estimand of prevention efficacy among drug compliers, those who would have had a threshold level of drug concentration had they been assigned to the drug arm of the trial. The identifiability of the causal estimand is facilitated by exploiting the exclusion restriction; that is, drug noncompliers do not acquire any prevention benefit. In addition, we develop an approach to sensitivity analysis that relaxes the exclusion restriction. Applications to published data from 2 PrEP trials, namely the Preexposure Prophylaxis Initiative (iPrEx) trial and the Centre for the AIDS Programme of Research in South Africa (CAPRISA) 004 trial, suggest high efficacy estimates among drug compliers (in the iPrEx trial, odds ratio = 0.097 (95% confidence interval: 0.027, 0.352); in the CAPRISA 004 trial, odds ratio = 0.104 (95% confidence interval: 0.024, 0.447)). In summary, the proposed inferential method provides an unbiased assessment of PrEP efficacy among drug compliers, thus adding to the primary intention-to-treat analysis and correlation analyses of drug concentration data.

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