PloS one 2016 Nov 211(11) e0166016 doi 10.1371/journal.pone.0166016
Persons living with HIV (PLWH) who are engaged in care, yet not virally suppressed, represent a risk for transmission and opportunity for risk reduction interventions. This study describes characteristics of an outpatient clinic cohort of PLWH by laboratory confirmed viral suppression status and examines associations with demographics and sexual and drug use behaviors gathered through questionnaire. From a sample of 500 clinic patients, 438 were prescribed antiretroviral treatment (ART) and 62 were not. Among the 438 on ART, 72 (16.4%) were not virally suppressed at the most recent lab draw. Compared to individuals with a suppressed viral load, those that were unsuppressed were more likely to: be black (79.2% vs. 64.2%; p = 0.014); earn below $25,000/year (88.9% vs. 65.0%; p < 0.001); be of a younger age (47.8 vs. 50.0 mean years; p = 0.009); be on opiate substitution (14.1% vs. 6.3%; p = 0.023); and acknowledge poly-substance (38.9% vs. 24.4%; p = 0.012) and excessive alcohol use (13.9% vs. 6.0%; p = 0.019). Conversely, a smaller proportion of those with an unsuppressed viral load had multiple sex partners in the previous 30 days (39.8% vs. 58.5%; p = 0.003). In multivariable regression of those on ART, the prevalence of an unsuppressed viral load was 3% lower with each increasing year of age (aPR: 0.97; 95% CI: 0.95, 0.99) and 47% lower with income over $25,000/year (aPR: 0.33; 95% CI: 0.16, 0.70). In a separate analysis of all 500 subjects, ART was less frequently prescribed to blacks compared to whites, heterosexuals, those with lower education and income, and persons with active substance use. Findings confirm that a large proportion of PLWH and engaged in care were not virally suppressed and continued behaviors that risk transmission, indicating the need for screening, prevention counseling and access to ancillary services to lower the incidence of HIV infections.