During the COVID-19 pandemic, patients experienced significant care disruptions, including laboratory monitoring. We investigated changes in the time between viral load (VL) checks for people with HIV (PWH) associated with the pandemic.
Setting and Methods:
This was an observational analysis of VLs of PWH in routine care at a large subspecialty clinic. At pandemic onset, the clinic temporarily closed its onsite laboratory. The exposure was time period (time varying): prepandemic (January 1, 2019–March 15, 2020); pandemic laboratory closed (March 16–July 12, 2020); and pandemic laboratory open (July 13–December 31, 2020). We estimated time from an index VL to a subsequent VL, stratified by whether the index VL was suppressed (≤200 copies/mL). We also calculated cumulative incidence of a nonsuppressed VL following a suppressed index VL, and of resuppression following a loss of viral suppression.
Compared with prepandemic, hazard ratios for next VL check were 0.34 (95% CI: 0.30 to 0.37, laboratory-closed) and 0.73 (CI: 0.68 to 0.78, laboratory-open) for suppressed patients, and 0.56 (CI: 0.42 to 0.79, laboratory-closed) and 0.92 (95% CI: 0.76 to 1.10, laboratory-open) for nonsuppressed patients. The 12-month cumulative incidence of loss of suppression was the same in the pandemic laboratory-open (4%) and prepandemic (4%) period. The hazard of resuppression following the loss of suppression was lower during the pandemic laboratory-open versus the prepandemic period (hazard ratio: 0.68, 95% CI: 0.50 to 0.92).
Early pandemic restrictions and laboratory closure significantly delayed VL monitoring. Once the laboratory reopened, nonsuppressed patients resumed normal monitoring. Suppressed patients still had a delay but no significant loss of suppression.