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Racial disparities in HIV virologic failure: do missed visits matter?

Mugavero MJ, Lin HY, Allison JJ, Giordano TP, Willig JH, Raper JL, Wray NP, Cole SR, Schumacher JE, Davies S, Saag MS. Racial disparities in HIV virologic failure: do missed visits matter? Journal of acquired immune deficiency syndromes. 2009 Jan 1; 50(1):100-8.

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BACKGROUND: Racial/ethnic health care disparities are well described in people living with HIV/AIDS, although the processes underlying observed disparities are not well elucidated. METHODS: A retrospective analysis nested in the University of Alabama at Birmingham 1917 Clinic Cohort observational HIV study evaluated patients between August 2004 and January 2007. Factors associated with appointment nonadherence, a proportion of missed outpatient visits, were evaluated. Next, the role of appointment nonadherence in explaining the relationship between African American race and virologic failure (plasma HIV RNA > 50 copies/mL) was examined using a staged multivariable modeling approach. RESULTS: Among 1221 participants, a broad distribution of appointment nonadherence was observed, with 40% of patients missing at least 1 in every 4 scheduled visits. The adjusted odds of appointment nonadherence were 1.85 times higher in African American patients compared with whites [95% confidence interval (CI) = 1.61 to 2.14]. Appointment nonadherence was associated with virologic failure (odds ratio = 1.78, 95% CI = 1.48 to 2.13) and partially mediated the relationship between African American race and virologic failure. African Americans had 1.56 times the adjusted odds of virologic failure (95% CI = 1.19 to 2.05), which declined to 1.30 (95% CI = 0.98 to 1.72) when controlling for appointment nonadherence, a hypothesized mediator. CONCLUSIONS: Appointment nonadherence was more common in African American patients, associated with virologic failure, and seemed to explain part of observed racial disparities in virologic failure.

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