Stimulant Use and Viral Suppression in the Era of Universal Antiretroviral Therapy

Adam W. Carrico, Peter W. Hunt, Torsten B. Neilands, Samantha E. Dilworth, Jeffrey N. Martin, Steven G. Deeks, Elise D. Riley

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

26 Scopus citations


Background:HIV-positive persons who use stimulants such as methamphetamine experience difficulties navigating the HIV care continuum that undermine the benefits of antiretroviral therapy (ART). However, few studies have examined the association of stimulant use with viral suppression in the era of universal ART.Setting:Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital.Methods:HIV-positive persons participating in a clinical cohort study and taking ART completed assessments every 4-6 months. The exposure was the cumulative, time-varying proportion of assessments with any self-reported stimulant use. The time-varying outcome, HIV viral suppression (ie, <200 copies/mL), was measured at assessments or extracted from the clinical record.Results:In total, 1635 HIV-positive participants on ART contributed 17,610 person-visits over a median of 2.3 [interquartile range (IQR) = 1.0-5.3] years of follow-up. Participants were middle-aged (median = 45.0; IQR = 38.0-52.0), predominantly white (57%), sexual minority men (78%), with a median CD4+ T-cell count of 409 (IQR = 225-640) cells/mm3 at enrollment. Significant increases in odds of viral suppression over time were less pronounced among stimulant users compared with nonusers, particularly before the advent of universal ART. Increasing odds of viral suppression were paralleled by declining stimulant use over time. In the universal ART era, increasing odds of viral suppression were observed at lower levels of stimulant use, but not when participants reported using stimulants at every visit.Conclusions:Although ART benefits are still not achieved as rapidly in stimulant users, this disparity is not as large in the era of universal ART.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)89-93
Number of pages5
JournalJournal of Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndromes
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2019


  • HIV
  • adherence
  • cocaine
  • methamphetamine
  • viral load

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Infectious Diseases
  • Pharmacology (medical)


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