Gender and alcohol use: influences on HIV care continuum in a national cohort of patients with HIV


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Abstract

Objectives:To investigate whether gender is associated with three recommended stages of the HIV care continuum and whether gender modifies known associations between level of alcohol use and HIV care among US veterans.Design:Retrospective cohort.Methods:Veterans Aging Cohort Study data were used to identify Veterans Health Administration (VA) patients with HIV and AUDIT-C alcohol screening from 1 February 2008 to 30 September 2014. Modified Poisson regression models estimated the relative risk and predicted prevalences of engagement in HIV care (documented CD4+ cells/μl or viral load copies/ml lab values), ART treatment (at least one prescription), and viral suppression (HIV RNA <500 copies/ml) in the year following AUDIT-C (1) for women compared to men, and (2) for each level of alcohol use compared to nondrinking among women and among men. A multiplicative interaction between gender and alcohol use was tested.Results:Among 33 224 patients, women (n = 971) were less likely than men (n = 32 253) to receive HIV care (P values <0.001). Respective predicted prevalences for women and men were 71.9% (95% CI 69.1–74.7%) and 77.9% (77.5–78.4%) for engagement, 60.0% (57.0–73.14%) and 73.8% (73.4–74.3%) for ART treatment, and 46.4% (43.3–49.6%) and 55.8% (55.3–56.3%) for viral suppression. Although the interaction between gender and alcohol use was not statistically significant, stratified analyses suggested worse outcomes for women than men at higher levels of alcohol use.Conclusion:In this large national cohort, women were less likely than men to be engaged in HIV medical care, prescribed ART, and virally suppressed. Interventions to improve HIV care for women are needed at all levels of alcohol use.

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