Background. Few interventions have been shown to improve retention in human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) care, and none have targeted the hospitalized patient. Peer mentoring has not been rigorously tested.
Methods. We conducted a randomized, controlled clinical trial of a peer mentoring intervention. Eligible adults were hospitalized and were either newly diagnosed with HIV infection or out of care. The intervention included 2 in-person sessions with a volunteer peer mentor while hospitalized, followed by 5 phone calls in the 10 weeks after discharge. The control intervention provided didactic sessions on avoiding HIV transmission on the same schedule. The primary outcome was a composite of retention in care (completed HIV primary care visits within 30 days and between 31 and 180 days after discharge) and viral load (VL) improvement (≥1 log10 decline) 6 months after discharge.
Results. We enrolled 460 participants in 3 years; 417 were in the modified intent-to-treat analysis. The median age was 42 years; 74% were male; and 67% were non-Hispanic black. Baseline characteristics did not differ between the randomized groups. Twenty-eight percent of the participants in both arms met the primary outcome (P = .94). There were no differences in prespecified secondary outcomes, including retention in care and VL change. Post hoc analyses indicated interactions between the intervention and length of hospitalization and between the intervention and receipt of linkage services before discharge.
Conclusions. Peer mentoring did not increase reengagement in outpatient HIV care among hospitalized, out-of-care persons. More intense and system-focused interventions warrant further study.
Clinical Trials Registration. NCT01103856.