Prevalence and predictors of highly active antiretroviral therapy use in patients with HIV infection in the United States

William E. Cunningham, Leona E. Markson, Ronald M. Andersen, Stephen H. Crystal, John A. Fleishman, Carol Golin, Allen Gifford, Honghu H. Liu, Terry T. Nakazono, Sally Morton, Samuel A. Bozzette, Martin F. Shapiro, Neil S. Wenger

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

162 Scopus citations


Background: Highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART) became standard for HIV in 1996. Studies at that time showed that most people infected with HIV had initiated HAART, but that members of minority groups and poor people had lower HAART use. It is not known whether high levels of HAART use have been sustained or whether socioeconomic and racial disparities have diminished over time. Objectives: To determine the proportion of patients who had received and were receiving HAART by January 1998, and to evaluate predictors of HAART receipt. Design and Participants: Prospective cohort study of a national probability sample of 2267 adults receiving HIV care who completed baseline, first follow-up, and second follow-up interviews from January 1996 to January 1998. Main outcome variables: Proportion currently using HAART at second follow-up (August 1997 to January 1998), contrasted with the cumulative proportions using HAART at any time before January 1998 and before December 1996. Analyses: Bivariate and multiple logistic regression analysis of population characteristics predicting current use of HAART at the time of the second follow-up interview. Results: The proportion of patients ever having received HAART increased from 37% in December 1996 to 71% by January 1998, but only 53% of people were receiving HAART at the time of the second follow-up interview. Differences between sociodemographic groups in ever using HAART narrowed after 1996. In bivariate analysis, several groups remained significantly less likely to be using HAART at the time of the second follow-up interview: blacks, male and female drug users, female heterosexuals, people with less education, those uninsured and insured by Medicaid, those in the Northeast, and those with CD4 counts of ≥500 cells/μ1 (all p < .05). Using multiple logistic regression analysis, low CD4 count (for CD4 <50 cells/μl: odds ratio [OR], 3.20; p < .001) remained a significant predictor of current HAART use at the time of the second follow-up interview, but lack of insurance (OR, 0.71; p < .05) predicted not receiving HAART. Conclusions: The proportion of persons under HIV care in the United States who had ever received HAART increased to over 70% of the affected population by January 1998 and the disparities in use between groups narrowed but did not disappear. However, nearly half of those eligible for HAART according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services guidelines were not actually receiving it nearly 2 years after these medications were first introduced. Strategies to promote the initiation and continuation of HAART are needed for those without contraindications and those who can tolerate it.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)115-123
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndromes
Issue number2
StatePublished - Oct 1 2000
Externally publishedYes


  • AIDS
  • HAART use
  • HIV

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Infectious Diseases
  • Pharmacology (medical)


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