Antiretroviral Concentrations in Small Hair Samples as a Feasible Marker of Adherence in Rural Kenya

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Abstract

Antiretroviral hair levels objectively quantify drug exposure over time and predict virologic responses. We assessed the acceptability and feasibility of collecting small hair samples in a rural Kenyan cohort. Ninety-five percentage of participants (354/373) donated hair. Although median self-reported adherence was 100% (interquartile range, 96%–100%), a wide range of hair concentrations likely indicates overestimation of self-reported adherence and the advantages of a pharmacologic adherence measure. Higher nevirapine hair concentrations observed in women and older adults require further study to unravel behavioral versus pharmacokinetic contributors. In resource-limited settings, hair antiretroviral levels may serve as a low-cost quantitative biomarker of adherence.

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