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A Heavy Burden: Preexisting Physical and Psychiatric Comorbidities, and Differential Increases among Male and Female Participants after Initiating Antiretroviral Therapy in the HIV Outpatient Study, 2008-2018

Tedaldi EM, Armon C, Li J, Mahnken J, Simoncini G, Palella FJ, Carlson K, Buchacz K

AIDS Research and Human Retroviruses

Attention to non-AIDS comorbidities is increasingly important in the HIV care and management in the United States. We sought to assess comorbidities before and after antiretroviral therapy (ART) initiation among persons with HIV (PWH). Using the 2008-2018 HIV Outpatient Study (HOPS) data, we assessed changes in prevalence of physical and psychiatric comorbidities, by sex, among participants initiating ART. Cox proportional hazards models were fit to investigate factors associated with the first documented occurrence of key comorbidities, adjusting for demographics and other covariates, including insurance type, CD4+ cell count, ART regimen, and smoking status. Among 1,236 participants who initiated ART (median age 36 years, CD4 cell count 375 cells/mm3), 79% were male, 66% non-white, 44% publicly insured, 53% ever smoked, 33% had substance use history, and 22% had body mass index ≥30 kg/m2. Among females, the percentages with at least one condition were: at ART start, 72% had a physical and 42% a psychiatric comorbidity, and after a median of 6.1 years of follow-up, these were 87% and 63%, respectively. Among males, the percentages with at least one condition were: at ART start, 61% had a physical and 32% a psychiatric comorbidity, and after a median of 4.6 years of follow-up, these were 82% and 53%, respectively. In multivariable Cox proportional hazards analyses, increasing age and higher viral loads (VL) were associated with most physical comorbidities, and being a current/former smoker and higher VL were associated with all psychiatric comorbidities analyzed. HOPS participants already had a substantial burden of physical and psychiatric comorbidities at the time of ART initiation. With advancing age, PWH who initiate ART experience a clinically significant increase in the burden of chronic non-HIV comorbidities that warrants continued surveillance, prevention, and treatment.

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