Antiretroviral adherence and virologic suppression in partnered and unpartnered HIV-positive individuals in southern Brazil

De Melo, M.G.ça.; Varella, I.; Gorbach, P.M.; Sprinz, E.; Santos, B.; de Melo Rocha, T.í; Simon, M.; Almeida, M.; Lira, R.; Chaves, M.C.; Baker, Z.; Kerin, T.; Nielsen-Saines, K.

Plos one 14(2): E0212744


ISSN/ISBN: 1932-6203
PMID: 30811480
DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0212744
Accession: 066537066

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An undetectable serum HIV-1 load is key to effectiveness of antiretroviral (ARV) therapy, which depends on adherence to treatment. We evaluated factors possibly associated with ARV adherence and virologic response in HIV-infected heterosexual individuals. A cross-sectional study was conducted in 200 HIV-1 serodiscordant couples and 100 unpartnered individuals receiving ARV treatment at a tertiary hospital in southern Brazil. All subjects provided written informed consent, answered demographic/behavioral questionnaires through audio computer-assisted self-interviews (ACASI), and collected blood and vaginal samples for biological markers and assessment of sexually transmitted infections (STIs). HIV-negative partners were counseled and tested for HIV-1. The study population mean age was 39.9 years, 53.6% were female, 62.5% were Caucasian, 52.6% had incomplete or complete elementary education, 63.1% resided in Porto Alegre. Demographic, behavioral and biological marker characteristics were similar between couples and single individuals. There was an association between adherence reported on ACASI and an undetectable serum viral load (P<0.0001). Logistic regression analysis demonstrated that single-tablet ARV-regimens were independently associated with adherence (OR = 2.3; 95CI%: 1.2-4.4; P = 0.011) after controlling for age, gender, education, marital status, personal income, ARV regimen, and median time of ARV use. A positive correlation between genital secretion PCR results and serum viral load was significant in the presence of STIs (r = 0.359; P = 0.017). Although HIV PCR detection in vaginal secretions was more frequent in women with detectable viremia (9/51, 17.6%), it was also present in 7 of 157 women with undetectable serum viral loads (4.5%), p = 0.005. ARV single tablet regimens are associated with adherence. Detectable HIV-1 may be present in the genital secretions of women with undetectable viremia which means there is potential for HIV transmission in adherent individuals with serologic suppression.