Gender differences in factors associated with adherence to antiretroviral therapy

Karina M. Berg, Penelope A. Demas, Andrea A. Howard, Ellie E. Schoenbaum, Marc N. Gourevitch, Julia H. Arnsten

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

146 Scopus citations


OBJECTIVE: To identify gender differences in social and behavioral factors associated with antiretroviral adherence. DESIG: Prospective cohort study. SETTING: Methadone maintenance program. PARTICIPANTS: One hundred thirteen HIV-seropositive current or former opioid users. MEASUREMENTS AND MAIN RESULTS: Participants were surveyed at baseline about social and behavioral characteristics and at monthly research visits about drug and alcohol use and medication side effects. Electronic monitors (MEMS) were used to measure antiretroviral adherence. Median adherence among women was 27% lower than among men (46% vs. 73%; P < .05). In gender-stratified multivariate models, factors associated with worse adherence in men included not belonging to an HIV support group (P < .0001), crack/cocaine use (P < .005), and medication side effects (P = .01). Among women, alcohol use (P = .005), heroin use (P < .05), and significant medication side effects (P < .005) were independently associated with worse adherence. In a model including both men and women, worse adherence was associated with lack of long-term housing (P < .005), not belonging to any HIV support groups (P < .0005), crack or cocaine use (P < .01), and medication side effects (P < .0005). In addition, worse adherence was associated with the interaction between female gender and alcohol use (P < .05). CONCLUSIONS: In this cohort of current and former opioid users, gender-stratified analysis demonstrated that different social and behavioral factors are associated with adherence in men and women. Among both men and women, worse adherence was associated with lack of long-term housing, not belonging to an HIV support group, crack/cocaine use, and medication side effects. Among women only, alcohol use was associated with worse adherence.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1111-1117
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of general internal medicine
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 1 2004



  • Adherence
  • Alcohol
  • Antiretroviral therapy
  • Electronic monitors
  • Gender

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Internal Medicine

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