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Drug Alcohol Depend. 2019 Oct 25:107670. doi: 10.1016/j.drugalcdep.2019.107670. [Epub ahead of print]

Receipt of opioid agonist treatment halves the risk of HIV-1 RNA viral load rebound through improved ART adherence for HIV-infected women who use illicit drugs.

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Brown University School of Public Health, Department of Epidemiology, 121 South Main Street, Providence, RI 02903, United States.
British Columbia Centre on Substance Use, 400-1045 Howe Street, Vancouver, BC V6Z 2A9, Canada; Interdisciplinary Studies Graduate Program, University of British Columbia, 170-6371 Crescent Road, Vancouver, BC V6T 1Z2, Canada.
British Columbia Centre for Excellence in HIV/AIDS, 608-1081 Burrad Street, Vancouver, BC V6Z 1Y6, Canada.
British Columbia Centre on Substance Use, 400-1045 Howe Street, Vancouver, BC V6Z 2A9, Canada.
British Columbia Centre on Substance Use, 400-1045 Howe Street, Vancouver, BC V6Z 2A9, Canada; Department of Medicine, University of British Columbia, 2775 Laurel Street, 10th Floor, Vancouver, BC V5Z 1M9, Canada. Electronic address:



Women living with HIV who use illicit drugs may be particularly vulnerable to HIV-1 RNA viral load (VL) rebound.


We used longitudinal data from 2006 to 2017 to evaluate the impact of sociodemographic, behavioral, social-structural, and clinical factors on the hazard of viral rebound for women enrolled in the ACCESS study, a prospective cohort with systematic VL monitoring. Women were included if they achieved VL suppression (<50 copies/mL) following antiretroviral therapy (ART) initiation and had more than one study interview. Sociodemographic as well as substance use, social-structural, addiction treatment, and HIV clinical factors were evaluated as predictors of viral rebound (VL > 1000 copies/mL). Cox regressions using a recurrent events framework, time-varying covariates, robust standard errors, and a frailty component were used.


Of the 185 women included, 62 (34%) experienced at least one viral rebound event over an 11-year period, accumulating a total of 87 viral rebound events. In adjusted analysis, stimulant use more than doubled the hazard of viral rebound (adjusted hazard ratio [AHR]: 2.35, 95% confidence interval [CI]: 1.07-5.14) while the only factor protective against viral rebound was receipt of opioid agonist treatment (OAT) in the past six months (AHR: 0.46, 95% CI: 0.26-0.81). After adjusting for ART adherence in the past six months, the effect of OAT was attenuated (AHR: 0.57, 95% CI: 0.32-1.02).


Efforts to improve access to and retention within OAT programs and decrease stimulant use may improve rates of viral suppression for HIV-positive women who use illicit drugs.


HIV-1; Illicit drugs; Medication assisted treatment of opioid use disorder; Opioid-related disorders; Women

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