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Dose-skipping is risky business

Adherence Matters

February 1999

A note from TheBody.com: Since this article was written, the HIV pandemic has changed, as has our understanding of HIV/AIDS and its treatment. As a result, parts of this article may be outdated. Please keep this in mind, and be sure to visit other parts of our site for more recent information!

Researchers at the 6th Conference on Retroviruses and Opportunistic Infections in Chicago further confirmed that not taking all prescribed HIV medications (every dose, every time, every day) will lead to higher viral load and lower CD4 counts. The association of adherence with viral load and CD4 counts was quite astonishing (see chart).

According to these findings, adherence clearly determines the health outcome of antiretroviral therapy. In other words, you need to be extremely adherent in order to have the best possible health outcome.

For example, for those who reported being adherent over 95 percent of the time, 81 percent had a viral load of less than 400; whereas, for those who reported being adherent less than 70 percent of the time, only 6 percent had a viral load of less than 400.

Those who reported being greater than 95-percent adherent also had an average increase of 60 CD4 cells; whereas, those who reported being less than 80 percent adherent had a reduction of 13 CD4 cells.

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What all this means for you is that in order to get the best possible results (low viral load, high CD4 counts), you need to be close to perfect or perfect in adherence (never missing a dose)!


Level of Adherence%with viral load below 400mean change in CD4 count
greater than 95%81plus 60
90-95%64plus 54
80-90%50*
70-80%25*
less than 70%6minus 13


This article has been reprinted at The Body with the permission of AIDS Project Los Angeles (APLA).

A note from TheBody.com: Since this article was written, the HIV pandemic has changed, as has our understanding of HIV/AIDS and its treatment. As a result, parts of this article may be outdated. Please keep this in mind, and be sure to visit other parts of our site for more recent information!



  
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This article was provided by AIDS Project Los Angeles. It is a part of the publication Positive Living.
 
See Also
6 Reasons Why People Skip Their HIV Meds
Word on the Street: Advice on Adhering to HIV Treatment
More HIV Treatment Adherence Research

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