Engagement in HIV primary care and the receipt of antiretroviral therapy when clinically indicated offers patients the opportunity to experience HIV disease as a chronic illness. Yet many people, particularly those with comorbid mental health or substance abuse conditions and those who face multiple barriers to care, cycle in and out of care and thus can not reap the life-prolonging benefits of antiretroviral therapy. Although there is evidence about the impact of different interventions on adherence to HIV medications, there is little information about the impact of interventions on engagement or retention in HIV primary care among the hard-to-reach. In this multisite, national study, we contribute new information by exploring the relationship between outreach program contacts and retention in care over a 12-month period among participants in a demonstration project to promote engagement and retention in HIV primary care. We found that when participants received nine or more contacts during the first 3 months of their programs, they were about half as likely to have a substantial gap (defined as 4 months or more) in primary care during the first 12 months of follow-up. This finding remained after controlling for baseline CD4 count. These findings can be used to improve the effectiveness of programs to increase engagement and retention in HIV primary care among the hard-to-reach.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
- Infectious Diseases