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The Longitudinal Effects of Non-injection Substance Use on Sustained HIV Viral Load Undetectability Among MSM and Heterosexual Men in Brazil and Thailand: The Role of ART Adherence and Depressive Symptoms (HPTN 063)

  • Yale School of Public Health
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Abstract and Figures

The effect of non-injection substance use on HIV viral load (VL) is understudied in international settings. Data are from HPTN063, a longitudinal observational study of HIV-infected individuals in Brazil, Thailand, and Zambia, with focus on men with VL data (Brazil = 146; Thailand = 159). Generalized linear mixed models (GLMM) assessed whether non-injection substance use (stimulants, cannabis, alcohol, polysubstance) was associated with VL undetectability. ART adherence and depressive symptoms were examined as mediators of the association. In Thailand, substance use was not significantly associated with VL undetectability or ART adherence, but alcohol misuse among MSM was associated with increased odds of depression (AOR = 2.75; 95% CI 1.20, 6.32, p = 0.02). In Brazil, alcohol misuse by MSM was associated with decreased odds of undetectable VL (AOR = 0.34; 95% CI 0.13, 0.92, p = 0.03). Polysubstance use by heterosexual men in Brazil was associated with decreased odds of ART adherence (AOR = 0.25; 95% CI 0.08, 0.78, p = 0.02). VL suppression appears attainable among non-injection substance users. Substance use interventions among HIV-positive men should address depression, adherence, and VL undetectability.
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AIDS and Behavior (2019) 23:649–660
The Longitudinal Eects ofNon‑injection Substance Use onSustained
HIV Viral Load Undetectability Among MSM andHeterosexual Men
inBrazil andThailand: The Role ofART Adherence andDepressive
Symptoms (HPTN 063)
KiyomiTsuyuki1 · StevenJ.Shoptaw2· YusufRansome3· GordonChau4· CarlosE.Rodriguez‑Diaz5·
RuthK.Friedman6· KriengkraiSrithanaviboonchai7,8· SueLi4· MatthewJ.Mimiaga9· KennethH.Mayer10·
Published online: 6 February 2019
© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2019
The effect of non-injection substance use on HIV viral load (VL) is understudied in international settings. Data are from
HPTN063, a longitudinal observational study of HIV-infected individuals in Brazil, Thailand, and Zambia, with focus on
men with VL data (Brazil = 146; Thailand = 159). Generalized linear mixed models (GLMM) assessed whether non-injection
substance use (stimulants, cannabis, alcohol, polysubstance) was associated with VL undetectability. ART adherence and
depressive symptoms were examined as mediators of the association. In Thailand, substance use was not significantly asso-
ciated with VL undetectability or ART adherence, but alcohol misuse among MSM was associated with increased odds of
depression (AOR = 2.75; 95% CI 1.20, 6.32, p = 0.02). In Brazil, alcohol misuse by MSM was associated with decreased
odds of undetectable VL (AOR = 0.34; 95% CI 0.13, 0.92, p = 0.03). Polysubstance use by heterosexual men in Brazil was
associated with decreased odds of ART adherence (AOR = 0.25; 95% CI 0.08, 0.78, p = 0.02). VL suppression appears attain-
able among non-injection substance users. Substance use interventions among HIV-positive men should address depression,
adherence, and VL undetectability.
Keywords Substance use· HIV· Depression· Adherence· Undetectable viral load
* Kiyomi Tsuyuki
1 Division ofInfectious Diseases andGlobal Public Health,
Department ofMedicine, University ofCalifornia, San
Diego (UCSD), 9500 Gilman Drive, MC 0507, La Jolla,
SanDiego, CA92093-0507, USA
2 David Geffen School ofMedicine, Department ofFamily
Medicine, University ofCalifornia, Los Angeles (UCLA),
LosAngeles, CA, USA
3 Harvard T.H. Chan School ofPublic Health, Boston, MA,
4 Statistical Center forHIV/AIDS Research andPrevention
(SCHARP), Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center,
Seattle, WA, USA
5 University ofPuerto Rico, Medical Sciences Campus,
SanJuan, PuertoRico
6 Instituto de Pesquisa Clinica Evandro Chagas, RiodeJaneiro,
7 Faculty ofMedicine, Chiang Mai University, Muang District,
ChiangMai, Thailand
8 Research Institute forHealth Sciences, Chiang Mai
University, Muang District, ChiangMai, Thailand
9 Center forHealth Equity Research, Brown University,
Providence, RI, USA
10 The Fenway Institute, Fenway Health, Boston, MA, USA
11 Department ofPsychology, University ofMiami,
CoralGables, FL, USA
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... Polysubstance use was defined as the current use of two or more of these substances (i.e., alcohol, cannabis, heroin, cocaine, methamphetamine, heroin, and hallucinogens). Tobacco use was not included in the definition of polysubstance use, consistent with prior work among PWH [18,36,37]. ...
... This can lead to HIV disease advancement through biological mechanisms such as lowering CD4+ T-cell count and promoting viral replication, thus aiding in the progression of HIV infection and community transmission [53]. Further research can extend our work on the polysubstance-ART adherence relationship by examining the extent to which these effects are additive or multiplicative [37]. ...
... Importantly, PSU was associated with ART non-adherence, contributing to the growing body of literature on PSU among PWH [19,37]. These findings suggest possible intervention strategies. ...
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People with HIV (PWH) report substance use at higher rates than HIV-uninfected individuals. The potential negative impact of single and polysubstance use on HIV treatment among diverse samples of PWH is underexplored. PWH were recruited from the Center for Positive Living at the Montefiore Medical Center (Bronx, NY, USA) from May 2017-April 2018 and completed a cross-sectional survey with measures of substance use, antiretroviral therapy (ART) use, and ART adherence. The overall sample included 237 PWH (54.1% Black, 42.2% female, median age 53 years). Approximately half of the sample reported any current substance use with 23.1% reporting single substance use and 21.4% reporting polysubstance use. Polysubstance use was more prevalent among those with current cigarette smoking relative to those with no current smoking and among females relative to males. Alcohol and cannabis were the most commonly reported polysubstance combination; however, a sizeable proportion of PWH reported other two, three, and four-substance groupings. Single and polysubstance use were associated with lower ART adherence. A thorough understanding of substance use patterns and related adherence challenges may aid with targeted public health interventions to improve HIV care cascade goals, including the integration of substance use prevention into HIV treatment and care settings.
... Furthermore, AU has been found to increase the risk of hepatotoxicity associated with ART [13,119]. Nonetheless, several studies have found no association between SU and poor TA [12,29,101,102,113,118,[120][121][122][123][124]. ...
... SU has also been associated with TF as evidenced by virologic failure (VF) in Brazil [37,99,113,119,120,125], Guatemala [16], Peru [15,121], and a multinational study [122]. In Brazil, PLWH with a detectable VL had 1.76 times higher chance of AU [120], while DU increased risk of a detectable VL by 3 times [119]. ...
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This scoping review aims to explore the interplay between substance use (SU) and HIV in Latin America (LA). Database searches yielded 3481 references; 196 were included. HIV prevalence among people who used substances (PWUS) ranged from 2.8–15.2%. SU definitions were variable throughout studies, and thus data were not easily comparable. In 2019, only 2% of new HIV infections were attributed to injection drug use (IDU) in LA. Factors associated with HIV among PWUS included being female, IDU and homelessness, and PWUS were likely to engage in risky sexual behaviors, start antiretroviral treatment late, have poor adherence, have treatment failure, be lost to follow-up, have comorbidities, and experience higher mortality rates and lower quality of life, as has been reported in PLWH with SU in other regions. Five intervention studies were identified, and only one was effective at reducing HIV incidence in PWUS. Interventions in other regions have varying success depending on context-specific characteristics, highlighting the need to conduct more research in the LA region. Though progress has been made in establishing SU as a major concern in people living with HIV (PLWH), much more is yet to be done to reduce the burden of HIV and SU in LA.
... However, an analysis of adult PLHIV in South Korea did find patients with depression were more likely to frequently miss clinical appointments and have a higher cumulative time lost to follow-up per month compared to patients without depression [44]. Among HIV-positive heterosexual men and MSM in Thailand, non-injection substance use was associated with a lower likelihood of having an undetectable viral load [45], but a study of predominantly male adult PLHIV in care at community and hospital-based ART clinics in Vietnam found no association between mental health symptoms and virologic suppression [46]. Despite a high burden of depression and substance use, and the potential for negative impacts on HIV clinical outcomes, there remain substantial gaps in access to mental health and substance use related care for adult PLHIV in the region, and fragmented integration of related services within HIV clinical settings. ...
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Despite the mental health and substance use burden among people living with HIV (PLHIV) in the Asia–Pacific, data on their associations with HIV clinical outcomes are limited. This cross-sectional study of PLHIV at five sites assessed depression and substance use using PHQ-9 and ASSIST. Among 864 participants, 88% were male, median age was 39 years, 97% were on ART, 67% had an HIV viral load available and < 1000 copies/mL, 19% had moderate-to-severe depressive symptoms, and 80% had ever used at least one substance. Younger age, lower income, and suboptimal ART adherence were associated with moderate-to-severe depressive symptoms. Moderate-to-high risk substance use, found in 62% of users, was associated with younger age, being male, previous stressors, and suboptimal adherence. Our findings highlight the need for improved access to mental health and substance use services in HIV clinical settings.
... [23][24][25][26][27][28][29][30][31] Other studies have linked psychological predictors and substance use, although not their additive effects, to viral nonsupression and worse HIV clinical outcomes. [32][33][34][35][36][37][38][39][40][41] In the treatment as prevention (TasP) era, consistent adherence to ART effectively suppresses HIV RNA, minimizing transmission to seronegative partners. [42][43][44] Connecting PLWH to care and achieving ART adherence are key to the UNAIDS 95-95-95 treatment target and the US government's Ending the HIV Epidemic strategy. ...
Psychosocial syndemic conditions have received more attention regarding their deleterious effects on HIV acquisition risk than for their potential impact on HIV treatment and viral suppression. To examine syndemic conditions' impact on the HIV care continuum, we analyzed data collected from people living with HIV (N = 14,261) receiving care through The Centers for AIDS Research Network of Integrated Clinical Systems at seven sites from 2007 to 2017 who provided patient-reported outcomes ∼4-6 months apart. Syndemic condition count (depression, anxiety, substance use, and hazardous drinking), sexual risk group, and time in care were modeled to predict antiretroviral therapy (ART) adherence and viral suppression (HIV RNA <400 copies/mL) using multilevel logistic regression. Comparing patients with each other, odds of ART adherence were 61.6% lower per between-patient syndemic condition [adjusted odds ratio (AOR) = 0.384; 95% confidence interval (CI), 0.362-0.408]; comparing patients with themselves, odds of ART adherence were 36.4% lower per within-patient syndemic condition (AOR = 0.636 95% CI, 0.606-0.667). Odds of viral suppression were 29.3% lower per between-patient syndemic condition (AOR = 0.707; 95% CI, 0.644-0.778) and 27.7% lower per within-patient syndemic condition (AOR = 0.723; 95% CI, 0.671-0.780). Controlling for the effects of adherence (AOR = 5.522; 95% CI, 4.67-6.53), each additional clinic visit was associated with 1.296 times higher odds of viral suppression (AOR = 1.296; 95% CI, 1.22-1.38), but syndemic conditions were not significant. Deploying effective interventions within clinics to identify and treat syndemic conditions and bolster ART adherence and continued engagement in care can help control the HIV epidemic, even within academic medical settings in the era of increasingly potent ART.
... ART nonadherence, uncontrolled viral load or biobehavioural transmission risk behaviour) [35][36][37][38][39][40][41][42][43]. Other studies have linked psychosocial variables (notably, depression) and substance use (notably, stimulants), though not their additive effects, to elevated viral load and worse HIV clinical outcomes [9,[44][45][46][47][48][49][50][51][52]. To our knowledge, no prior analysis has quantified the impact of co-occurring syndemic conditions among PLWH on HIV transmission, estimated or otherwise. ...
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Introduction Little is known about onward HIV transmissions from people living with HIV (PLWH) in care. Antiretroviral therapy (ART) has increased in potency, and treatment as prevention (TasP) is an important component of ending the epidemic. Syndemic theory has informed modelling of HIV risk but has yet to inform modelling of HIV transmissions. Methods Data were from 61,198 primary HIV care visits for 14,261 PLWH receiving care through the Centers for AIDS Research (CFAR) Network of Integrated Clinical Systems (CNICS) at seven United States (U.S.) sites from 2007 to 2017. Patient‐reported outcomes and measures (PROs) of syndemic conditions – depressive symptoms, anxiety symptoms, drug use (opiates, amphetamines, crack/cocaine) and alcohol use – were collected approximately four to six months apart along with sexual behaviours (mean = 4.3 observations). Counts of syndemic conditions, HIV sexual risk group and time in care were modelled to predict estimated HIV transmissions resulting from sexual behaviour and viral suppression status (HIV RNA < 400/mL) using hierarchical linear modelling. Results Patients averaged 0.38 estimated HIV transmissions/100 patients/year for all visits with syndemic conditions measured (down from 0.83, first visit). The final multivariate model showed that per 100 patients, each care visit predicted 0.05 fewer estimated transmissions annually (95% confidence interval (CI): 0.03 to 0.06; p < 0.0005). Cisgender women, cisgender heterosexual men and cisgender men of undisclosed sexual orientation had, respectively, 0.47 (95% CI: 0.35 to 0.59; p < 0.0005), 0.34 (95% CI: 0.20 to 0.49; p < 0.0005) and 0.22 (95% CI: 0.09 to 0.35; p < 0.005) fewer estimated HIV transmissions/100 patients/year than cisgender men who have sex with men (MSM). Each within‐patient syndemic condition predicted 0.18 estimated transmissions/100 patients/year (95% CI: 0.12 to 0.24; p < 0.0005). Each between‐syndemic condition predicted 0.23 estimated HIV transmissions/100 patients/year (95% CI: 0.17 to 0.28; p < 0.0005). Conclusions Estimated HIV transmissions among PLWH receiving care in well‐resourced U.S. clinical settings varied by HIV sexual risk group and decreased with time in care, highlighting the importance of TasP efforts. Syndemic conditions remained a significant predictor of estimated HIV transmissions notwithstanding the effects of HIV sexual risk group and time in care.
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This paper measures syndemic substance use disorder, violence, and mental health and compares the syndemic among HIV-infected heterosexual men, heterosexual women, and men who have sex with men (MSM). Data were from a sample of high needs substance-using, HIV-infected people in South Florida between 2010 and 2012 (n = 481). We used confirmatory factor analysis to measure a syndemic latent variable and applied measurement invariance models to identify group differences in the data structure of syndemic co-morbidities among heterosexual men, heterosexual women, and MSM. We found that variables used to measure the syndemic fit each sub-group, supporting that substance use disorder, violence, and mental health coincide in HIV-infected individuals. Heterosexual men and MSM demonstrated similar syndemic latent variable factor loadings, but significantly different item intercepts, indicating that heterosexual men had larger mean values on substance use disorder, anxiety, and depression than MSM. Heterosexual men and heterosexual women demonstrated significantly different syndemic variable factor loadings, indicating that anxiety and depression contribute more (and substance use contributes less) to the syndemic in heterosexual men compared to heterosexual women. MSM and heterosexual women demonstrated similar syndemic latent variable factor loadings and intercepts, but had significantly different factor residual variances indicating more variance in violent victimization and depression for MSM and more variance in stress for heterosexual women than what is captured by the observed syndemic indicators. Furthermore, heterosexual women had a larger syndemic factor mean than MSM, indicating that the syndemic burden is greater among heterosexual women than MSM. Our findings support that measurement invariance can elucidate differences in the syndemic to tailor interventions to sub-group needs.
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Introduction Successful global treatment as prevention (TasP) requires identifying HIV-positive individuals at high risk for transmitting HIV, and having impact via potential infections averted. This study estimated the frequency and predictors of numbers of HIV transmissions and bacterial sexually transmitted infection (STI) acquisition among sexually active HIV-positive individuals in care from three representative global settings. Methods HIV-positive individuals (n=749), including heterosexual men, heterosexual women and men who have sex with men (MSM) in HIV care, were recruited from Chiang Mai (Thailand), Rio De Janeiro (Brazil) and Lusaka (Zambia). Participants were assessed on HIV and STI sexual transmission risk variables, psychosocial characteristics and bacterial STIs at enrolment and quarterly for 12 months (covering 15 months). Estimated numbers of HIV transmissions per person were calculated using reported numbers of partners and sex acts together with estimates of HIV transmissibility, accounting for ART treatment and condom use. Results An estimated 3.81 (standard error, (SE)=0.63) HIV transmissions occurred for every 100 participants over the 15 months, which decreased over time. The highest rate was 19.50 (SE=1.68) for every 100 MSM in Brazil. In a multivariable model, country×risk group interactions emerged: in Brazil, MSM had 2.85 (95% CI=1.45, 4.25, p<0.0001) more estimated transmissions than heterosexual men and 3.37 (95% CI=2.01, 4.74, p<0.0001) more than heterosexual women over the 15 months. For MSM and heterosexual women, the combined 12-month STI incidence rate for the sample was 22.4% (95% CI=18.1%, 27.3%; incidence deemed negligible in heterosexual men). In the multivariable model, MSM had 12.3 times greater odds (95% CI=4.44, 33.98) of acquiring an STI than women, but this was not significant in Brazil. Higher alcohol use on the Alcohol Use Disorders Identification Test (OR=1.04, 95% CI=1.01, 1.08) was also significantly associated with increased STI incidence. In bivariate models for both HIV transmissions and STI incidence, higher depressive symptoms were significant predictors. Conclusions These data help to estimate the potential number of HIV infections transmitted and bacterial STIs acquired over time in patients established in care, a group typically considered at lower transmission risk, and found substantial numbers of estimated HIV transmissions. These findings provide an approach for evaluating the impact (in phase 2 studies) and potentially cost-effectiveness of global TasP efforts.
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OBJECTIVE To analyze the factors associated with late presentation to HIV/AIDS services among heterosexual men. METHODS Men infected by HIV who self-identified as heterosexual (n = 543) were included in the study. Descriptive, biivariate and logistic regression analyses were performed to evaluate the factors associated with late presentation (defined as individuals whose first CD4 count was <350 cells/mm³) in the study population. RESULTS The prevalence of late presentation was 69.8%. The multivariate logistic analysis showed testing initiated by the provider (ORadjusted 3.75; 95%CI 2.45–5.63) increased the odds of late presentation. History of drug use (ORadjusted 0.59; 95%CI 0.38–0.91), history of having sexually transmitted infections (ORadjusted 0.64; 95%CI 0.42–0.97), and having less education (ORadjusted 0.63; 95%CI 0.41–0.97) were associated with a decreased odds of LP. CONCLUSIONS Provider initiated testing was the only variable to increase the odds of late presentation. Since the patients in this sample all self-identified as heterosexual, it appears that providers are not requesting they be tested for HIV until the patients are already presenting symptoms of AIDS. The high prevalence of late presentation provides additional evidence to shift towards routine testing and linkage to care, rather than risk-based strategies that may not effectively or efficiently engage individuals infected with HIV.
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Importance: New data and therapeutic options warrant updated recommendations for the use of antiretroviral drugs (ARVs) to treat or to prevent HIV infection in adults. Objective: To provide updated recommendations for the use of antiretroviral therapy in adults (aged ≥18 years) with established HIV infection, including when to start treatment, initial regimens, and changing regimens, along with recommendations for using ARVs for preventing HIV among those at risk, including preexposure and postexposure prophylaxis. Evidence review: A panel of experts in HIV research and patient care convened by the International Antiviral Society-USA reviewed data published in peer-reviewed journals, presented by regulatory agencies, or presented as conference abstracts at peer-reviewed scientific conferences since the 2014 report, for new data or evidence that would change previous recommendations or their ratings. Comprehensive literature searches were conducted in the PubMed and EMBASE databases through April 2016. Recommendations were by consensus, and each recommendation was rated by strength and quality of the evidence. Findings: Newer data support the widely accepted recommendation that antiretroviral therapy should be started in all individuals with HIV infection with detectable viremia regardless of CD4 cell count. Recommended optimal initial regimens for most patients are 2 nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitors (NRTIs) plus an integrase strand transfer inhibitor (InSTI). Other effective regimens include nonnucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitors or boosted protease inhibitors with 2 NRTIs. Recommendations for special populations and in the settings of opportunistic infections and concomitant conditions are provided. Reasons for switching therapy include convenience, tolerability, simplification, anticipation of potential new drug interactions, pregnancy or plans for pregnancy, elimination of food restrictions, virologic failure, or drug toxicities. Laboratory assessments are recommended before treatment, and monitoring during treatment is recommended to assess response, adverse effects, and adherence. Approaches are recommended to improve linkage to and retention in care are provided. Daily tenofovir disoproxil fumarate/emtricitabine is recommended for use as preexposure prophylaxis to prevent HIV infection in persons at high risk. When indicated, postexposure prophylaxis should be started as soon as possible after exposure. Conclusions and relevance: Antiretroviral agents remain the cornerstone of HIV treatment and prevention. All HIV-infected individuals with detectable plasma virus should receive treatment with recommended initial regimens consisting of an InSTI plus 2 NRTIs. Preexposure prophylaxis should be considered as part of an HIV prevention strategy for at-risk individuals. When used effectively, currently available ARVs can sustain HIV suppression and can prevent new HIV infection. With these treatment regimens, survival rates among HIV-infected adults who are retained in care can approach those of uninfected adults.
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In a cohort of patients receiving care for HIV, we examined longitudinally the impact of past 30-day frequency of heavy drinking (consuming 5+ drinks on one occasion) on HIV-related (detectable viral load and CD4+ T cell count) and non-HIV-related (hemoglobin and biomarkers of kidney function and liver fibrosis) clinical outcomes and the extent to which these effects were due to reduced antiretroviral therapy (ART) adherence. Data came from the Study to Understand the Natural History of HIV/AIDS in the Era of Effective Therapy. Between March 2004 and June 2006, 533 individuals receiving ART were recruited and followed every 6 months for six years. Using longitudinal mediation analysis, we estimated natural direct effects (NDE) of heavy drinking frequency (never, 1–3 times, or 4+ times in the past 30 days) on clinical outcomes and natural indirect effects (NIE) mediated via ART adherence. A one-level increase in heavy drinking frequency had a significant negative NDE on CD4+ T-cell counts (-10.61 cells/mm3; 95 % CI [-17.10, -4.12]) and a significant NIE through reduced ART adherence of -0.72 cells/mm3 (95 % CI [-1.28, -0.15]), as well as a significant NIE on risk of detectable viral load (risk ratio = 1.03; 95 % CI [1.00, 1.05]). Heavy drinking had a significant detrimental NIE on a combined index of 5-year mortality risk and detrimental NDE and total effect on a biomarker of liver fibrosis. Heavy drinking has deleterious effects on multiple clinical outcomes in people living with HIV, some of which are mediated through reduced ART adherence.
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Because problematic patterns of alcohol and other substance use are prevalent drivers of the HIV/AIDS epidemic, comprehensive interventions are needed for substance-using men who have sex with men (SUMSM). We conducted a systematic review of 12 randomized controlled trials (RCTs) of behavioral interventions for reducing condomless anal intercourse (CAI) in SUMSM. Three RCTs observed that cognitive-behavioral or motivational interviewing interventions achieved a 24% to 40% decrease in CAI. Interventions also tended to demonstrate greater efficacy for reducing CAI and substance use among those who had lower severity of substance use disorder symptoms. Although behavioral interventions for SUMSM are one potentially important component of bio-behavioral HIV/AIDS prevention, further research is needed to examine if integrative approaches that cultivate resilience and target co-occurring syndemic conditions demonstrate greater efficacy. Multi-level intervention approaches are also needed to optimize the effectiveness of pre-exposure prophylaxis and HIV treatment as prevention with SUMSM.
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Alcohol use is highly prevalent globally with numerous negative consequences to human health, including HIV progression, in people living with HIV (PLH). The HIV continuum of care, or treatment cascade, represents a sequence of targets for intervention that can result in viral suppression, which ultimately benefits individuals and society. The extent to which alcohol impacts each step in the cascade, however, has not been systematically examined. International targets for HIV treatment as prevention aim for 90 % of PLH to be diagnosed, 90 % of them to be prescribed with antiretroviral therapy (ART), and 90 % to achieve viral suppression; currently, only 20 % of PLH are virally suppressed. This systematic review, from 2010 through May 2015, found 53 clinical research papers examining the impact of alcohol use on each step of the HIV treatment cascade. These studies were mostly cross-sectional or cohort studies and from all income settings. Most (77 %) found a negative association between alcohol consumption on one or more stages of the treatment cascade. Lack of consistency in measurement, however, reduced the ability to draw consistent conclusions. Nonetheless, the strong negative correlations suggest that problematic alcohol consumption should be targeted, preferably using evidence-based behavioral and pharmacological interventions, to indirectly increase the proportion of PLH achieving viral suppression, to achieve treatment as prevention mandates, and to reduce HIV transmission.
Background: Reforms to the legal status of medical and non-medical cannabis are underway in many jurisdictions, including Canada, as are renewed efforts to scale-up HIV treatment-as-prevention (TasP) initiatives. It has been suggested that high-intensity cannabis use may be associated with sub-optimal HIV treatment outcomes. Thus, using data from a setting with a community-wide treatment-as-prevention (TasP) initiative coinciding with increasing access to medical cannabis, we sought to investigate the possible impact of high-intensity cannabis use on HIV clinical outcomes. Methods: Data was derived from the ACCESS study, a prospective cohort of HIV-positive people who use illicit drugs (PWUD) in Vancouver, Canada. Cohort data was confidentially linked to comprehensive clinical profiles, including records of all antiretroviral therapy (ART) dispensations and longitudinal plasma HIV-1 RNA viral load (VL) monitoring. We used generalized estimating equations (GEEs) to estimate the longitudinal bivariable and multivariable relationships between at least daily cannabis use and two key clinical outcomes: overall engagement in ART care, and achieving a non-detectable VL among ART-exposed participants. Results: Between December 2005 and June 2015, 874 HIV-positive PWUD (304 [35%] non-male) were included in this study. In total, 788 (90%) were engaged in HIV care at least once over the study period, of whom 670 (85%) achieved non-detectable VL at least once. In multivariable analyses, ≥ daily cannabis use did not predict lower odds of ART care (Adjusted Odds Ratio [AOR]: 1.02, 95% confidence interval [CI]: 0.77-1.36) or VL non-detectability among ART-exposed (AOR: 0.96, 95% CI: 0.75-1.21). Upon testing for potential interactions, ≥ daily cannabis use was found to be negatively associated with ART engagement during periods of binge alcohol use (p<0.05). Conclusion: With the exception of frequent cannabis use during periods of binge alcohol use, our results showed no statistically significant impact of daily cannabis use on the likelihood of ART care or VL non-detectability among ART-exposed HIV-positive PWUD. These findings are reassuring in light of the impending legalization of cannabis in Canada and ongoing efforts to expand TasP initiatives.
Successful biomedical prevention/treatment-as-prevention (TasP) requires identifying individuals at greatest risk for transmitting HIV, including those with antiretroviral therapy (ART) nonadherence and/or 'amplified HIV transmission risk,' defined as condomless sex with HIV-uninfected/unknown-status partners when infectious (i.e., with detectable viremia or STI diagnosis according to Swiss criteria for infectiousness). This study recruited sexually-active, HIV-infected patients in Brazil, Thailand, and Zambia to examine correlates of ART nonadherence and 'amplified HIV transmission risk'. Lower alcohol use (OR = .71, p < .01) and higher health-related quality of life (OR = 1.10, p < .01) were associated with greater odds of ART adherence over and above region. Of those with viral load data available (in Brazil and Thailand only), 40 % met Swiss criteria for infectiousness, and 29 % had 'amplified HIV transmission risk.' MSM had almost three-fold (OR = 2.89, p < .001) increased odds of 'amplified HIV transmission risk' (vs. heterosexual men) over and above region. TasP efforts should consider psychosocial and contextual needs, particularly among MSM with detectable viremia.