Gender Differences in Outcomes of Antiretroviral Treatment Among HIV-Infected Patients in China: A Retrospective Cohort Study, 2010–2015

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Women now account for about half of all people living with HIV worldwide, but researchers lack clear information and large population-based study about gender differences in treatment outcomes.


A nationwide retrospective observational cohort study with data from the China National Free Antiretroviral Treatment Program was performed. Antiretroviral-naive patients older than 18 years initiating standard antiretroviral therapy between January 1, 2010, and December 31, 2011, were included and followed up to December 31, 2015. We used modified Poisson regression models to estimate the impact of gender on virological suppression and retention in treatment, and Kaplan–Meier analysis and Cox proportional hazard models to evaluate gender difference in mortality.


Sixty-eight thousand six hundred forty-six patients [46,083 (67.1%) men and 22,563 (32.9%) women] with HIV met eligibility criteria. Women were significantly more likely to achieve virological suppression than men both at 12 months [adjusted relative risk (aRR) 1.02, 95% confidence interval (CI): 1.01 to 1.03, P < 0.001] and 48 months (aRR 1.01, 95% CI: 1.00 to 1.02, P = 0.005) after initiating antiretroviral treatment. Women were also more likely to remain in treatment at 12 months (aRR 1.02, 95% CI: 1.01 to 1.02, P < 0.001) and 48 months (aRR 1.04, 95% CI: 1.03 to 1.05, P < 0.001), although the difference became insignificant in alive patients. All-cause mortality was lower in women than in men (2.34 vs. 4.03 deaths/100PY, adjusted hazard ratio 0.72, 95% CI: 0.67 to 0.77, P < 0.001).


In China, women are more likely to achieve virological suppression, remain in treatment, and have a significantly lower risk of death than men. Future studies could take both biological and sociobehavioral factors into analysis to clarify the influence factors.

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