According to a new study, people suffering from HIV tend to spend more time in therapy to manage the chronic condition. The study was published in journal AIDS. Speaking about the issue, Dr. Ira Wilson, corresponding author of the new study in AIDS and chair of Health Services Policy and Practice Department in the Brown University School of Public Health, said, “This represents a lot of people who are not dying and not infecting other. These differences represent tremendous, very real benefit.”
The research racked Medicaid claims to measure medication persistence among 43,598 HIV patients in 14 states over the decade. Persistence refers to the time from starting treatment to discontinuing it. The study also compared those rates to persistence with medications for other chronic conditions among hundreds of thousands more patients without HIV-infection.
In 2001-2003, half of patients stopped taking HIV medications 23 months after starting them, but by 2004-2006 the median of persistence reached 35 months. In the final study period, 2007-2010, more than half the patients were still taking the medications by the study’s end, so the median had not even been reached.
Statistical analysis that adjusted for possible confounding factors confirmed that the last group of patients had a reduced risk of discontinuing their medications compared to patients at the beginning of the decade. A few other studies have shown a similar trend, but they have been based on data from advanced, individual clinics, Wilson said. This study is the first to show progress among a broad-based, low-income population.
Study’s lead author Bora Youn and Wilson agreed that while results showing strong increases in treatment persistence over a decade were encouraging, they acknowledged that it’s still a major problem that so many people apparently discontinue HIV medications after a few years.