To examine the relationship between poverty, operationalized using a novel material security measure, and adherence to antiretroviral therapy (ART) among people who use illicit drugs (PWUD) in a context of universal access to HIV care.
We analyzed data from a community-recruited prospective cohort in Vancouver, Canada (n = 623), from 2014 to 2017.
We used multivariable generalized mixed-effects analyses to estimate longitudinal factors associated with mean material security score. We then estimated the association between achieving at least 95% adherence to ART and overall mean material score, as well as mean score for three factors derived from a factor analysis. The three-factor structure, employed in the current analyses, were factor 1 (basic needs); factor 2 (housing-related variables) and factor 3 (economic resources).
Recent incarceration [β-coefficient (β) = −0.176, 95% confidence interval (95% CI): −0.288 to −0.063], unmet health needs [β = −0.110, 95% CI: −0.178 to −0.042), unmet social service needs (β = −0.264, 95% CI: −0.336 to −0.193) and having access to social services (β= −0.102, 95% CI: −0.1586 to −0.0465) were among the factors associated with lower material security scores. Contrary to expectations that low levels of material security in this population would lead to poor ART adherence, we did not observe a significant relationship between adherence and overall material security score, or for each factor individually.
Our findings highlight the potentially important role of no-cost, universal access to HIV prevention and treatment, in mitigating the impact of socioeconomic disadvantage on ART adherence.