A recent Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) analysis of patterns of adherence to antiretroviral (ARV) treatment among HIV-positive Latino men who have sex with men (MSM) found that those who are younger, living in poverty, use drugs or have unmet ancillary needs are less likely to report taking their ARVs with a high level of faithfulness.

Publishing their findings in the Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, Stacy M. Crim, MPH, and her colleagues at the CDC analyzed data on 1,673 Latino MSM living with HIV and receiving ARV treatment who participated in the Medical Monitoring Project between 2015 and 2019.

Fifty-seven percent of the men reported taking all their ARV doses during the previous month, 53% reported doing an excellent job taking their medications and 69% reported always taking their medications as recommended.

The study authors used those three responses to create a composite score indicating an individual’s adherence level from zero to 100, in which a score of 85 or above indicated adherence to ARVs. Seventy-seven percent of the men were considered adherent.

Compared with those age 50 and older, those between ages 18 and 29 were 21% less likely to be adherent, and those in their 30s were 14% less likely. Those at or below the federal poverty level were 10% less likely to be adherent than those with higher incomes.

Sixty-seven percent of those who reported using drugs during the previous year were adherent, compared with 82% of those who did not report recent drug use. Being adherent was also less common among those with a recent history of depression, compared with those with no such recent history (66% versus 80%), and among those with unmet need for ancillary services to help them get the most out of their health care, compared with those whose ancillary needs were met (72% versus 83%).

Among those who reported missing at least one dose of their ARVs, the most commonly reported reasons were forgetting to take the medication (63%), a change in their daily routine or travel (42%) and having fallen asleep early or overslept (34%). Sixty-four percent of those who missed at least one dose reported multiple reasons for doing so.

Seventy-five percent of those with good adherence had all their viral load test results come in below 200 during the previous 12 months, compared with 60% of those with an adherence score below 85.

The CDC study authors concluded, “Expanding access to ancillary services among Hispanic/Latino MSM, particularly those experiencing barriers to [ARV treatment] adherence, might improve clinical outcomes.”

To read the CDC report, click here.