Keeping medical appointments is particularly crucial for HIV-positive people on antiretrovirals (ARVs) who have a low CD4 count, aidsmap reports. Publishing their findings in the Journal of Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndromes, investigators conducted a cross-sectional analysis of 35,433 adults with HIV receiving care at 18 clinics throughout the United States between 2006 and 2011.

The researchers wanted to determine how retention into care affected viral suppression, which they defined as having a viral load below 400. Retention was defined as: 1) having two or more outpatient appointments that were divided by three months or more during a calendar year, 2) having a break of less than six months separating follow-up appointments, or 3) making quarterly clinic visits.

Eighty-four percent of the participants met the first definition of retention, 76 percent the second and 37 percent the third. The participants were virally suppressed during 72 percent of the person-years of the study.

If they were retained in care, those with 200 or fewer CD4s were 2.33-times as likely to achieve a suppressed viral load compared with those in the same CD4 bracket who were not retained in care. The greater probability of viral suppression for those in the remaining respective CD4 categories as compared with their un-retained peers were as follows: Those with 201–350 CD4s were 1.96-times as likely; those with 351–500 CD4s were 1.65 times as likely; and those with more than 500 were 1.22 times as likely to achieve viral suppression.

To read the aidsmap story, click here.

To read the study abstract, click here.