In light of recent changes to antiretroviral treatment (ART) guidelines of the World Health Organization and ongoing concerns about adherence with earlier initiation of ART, we conducted a systematic review of published literature to review the association between baseline (pre-ART initiation) CD4 count and ART adherence among adults enrolled in ART programs worldwide.
We performed a systematic search of English language original studies published between January 1, 2004 and September 30, 2015 using Medline, Web of Science, LILACS, AIM, IMEMR, and WPIMR databases. We calculated the odds of being adherent at higher CD4 count compared with lower CD4 count according to study definitions and pooled data using random effects models.
Twenty-eight articles were included in the review and 18 in the meta-analysis. The odds of being adherent was marginally lower for patients in the higher CD4 count group (pooled odds ratio, 0.90; 95% confidence interval, 0.84 to 0.96); however, the majority of studies found no difference in the odds of adherence when comparing CD4 count strata. In analyses restricted to comparisons above and below a CD4 count of 500 cells per microliter, there was no difference in adherence (pooled odds ratio, 1.01; 95% confidence interval: 0.97 to 1.05).
This review was unable to find consistent evidence of differences in adherence according to baseline CD4 count. Although this is encouraging for the new recommendations to treat all HIV-positive individuals irrespective of CD4 count, there is a need for additional high-quality studies, particularly among adults initiating ART at higher CD4 cell counts.