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Discontinuation of Antiretroviral Therapy Among Adults Receiving HIV Care in the United States

Hughes, Alison J. MPH*; Mattson, Christine L. PhD; Scheer, Susan PhD, MPH*; Beer, Linda PhD; Skarbinski, Jacek MD

JAIDS Journal of Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndromes: May 1st, 2014 - Volume 66 - Issue 1 - p 80–89
doi: 10.1097/QAI.0000000000000084
Epidemiology and Prevention

Background: Continuous antiretroviral therapy (ART) is important for maintaining viral suppression. This analysis estimates prevalence of and reason for ART discontinuation.

Methods: Three-stage sampling was used to obtain a nationally representative, cross-sectional sample of HIV-infected adults receiving HIV care. Face-to-face interviews and medical record abstractions were collected from June 2009 to May 2010. Data were weighted based on known probabilities of selection and adjusted for nonresponse. Patient characteristics of ART discontinuation, defined as not currently taking ART, stratified by provider-initiated versus non–provider-initiated discontinuation, were examined. Weighted logistic regression models predicted factors associated with ART discontinuation.

Results: Of adults receiving HIV care in the United States who reported ever initiating ART, 5.6% discontinued treatment. Half of those who discontinued treatment reported provider-initiated discontinuation. Provider-initiated ART discontinuation patients were more likely to have a nadir CD4 ≥200 cells per cubic millimeter. Non–provider-initiated ART discontinuation patients were more likely to have unmet need for supportive services and to have not received HIV care in the past 3 months. Among all patients who discontinued, younger age, female gender, not having continuous health insurance, incarceration, injection drug use, nadir CD4 count ≥200 cells per cubic millimeter, unmet need for supportive services, no care in the past 3 months and HIV diagnosis ≥5 years before interview were independently associated with ART discontinuation.

Conclusions: These findings inform development of interventions to increase ART persistence by identifying groups at increased risk of ART discontinuation. Evidence-based interventions targeting vulnerable populations are needed and are increasingly important as recent HIV treatment guidelines have recommended universal ART.

*San Francisco Department of Public Health, San Francisco, CA; and

Division of HIV/AIDS Prevention, Center for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta, GA.

Correspondence to: Alison J. Hughes, MPH, San Francisco Department of Public Health, 25 Van Ness Avenue, Suite 500, San Francisco, CA 94102 (e-mail:

Supported by US Government work.

The authors have no conflicts of interest to disclose.

The findings and conclusions in this report are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent the views of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and San Francisco Department of Public Health (SFDPH).

Received November 26, 2013

Accepted November 26, 2013

© 2014 by Lippincott Williams & Wilkins