The aim of the study was to assess, among people living with HIV, knowledge of their latest HIV viral load (VL) and CD4 count.
Agreement between self-report and clinic record was assessed among 2771 HIV-diagnosed individuals on antiretroviral treatment (ART) in the UK Antiretrovirals, Sexual Transmission Risk and Attitudes Study (2011–2012). A confidential self-completed questionnaire collected information on demographic, socioeconomic, HIV-related and health-related factors. Participants were asked to self-report their latest VL [undetectable (≤ 50 copies/mL), detectable (> 50 copies/mL) or “don’t know”] and CD4 count (< 200, 200–350, 351–500 or > 500 cells/μL, or “don’t know”). Latest clinic-recorded VL and CD4 count were documented.
Of 2678 participants on ART, 434 (16.2%) did not accurately report whether their VL was undetectable. Of 2334 participants with clinic-recorded VL ≤ 50 copies/mL, 2061 (88.3%) correctly reported undetectable VL; 49 (2.1%) reported detectable VL; 224 (9.6%) did not know their VL. Of 344 participants with clinic-recorded VL > 50 copies/mL, 183 (53.2%) correctly reported detectable VL; 76 (22.1%) reported undetectable VL; 85 (24.7%) did not know their VL. Of 2137 participants who reported undetectable VL, clinic-recorded VL was ≤ 50 copies/mL for 2061 (96.4%) and <1000 copies/mL for 2122 (99.3%). In analyses adjusted for gender/sexual orientation, ethnicity, age and time since starting ART, factors strongly associated with inaccurate self-report of VL (including “don’t know”) included socioeconomic disadvantage [prevalence ratio (95% CI) for “not” vs. “always” having enough money for basic needs: 2.4 (1.9, 3.1)], poor English fluency [3.5 (2.4, 5.1) vs. UK born], nondisclosure of HIV status [1.7 (1.3, 2.1)], ART nonadherence [2.1 (1.7, 2.7) for three or more missed doses vs. none in the past 2 weeks] and depressive symptoms (PHQ-9 score ≥ 10) [1.9 (1.6, 2.2)]. Overall, 612 (22.9%) of 2667 participants on ART did not accurately self-report whether or not their CD4 count was ≤ 350 cells/μL.
There is a high level of accuracy of a self-report of undetectable VL in people on ART in the UK. Overall, accurate knowledge of personal VL level varied according to demographic, socioeconomic, HIV-related and health-related factors. Active identification of people who may benefit from increased levels of support and engagement in care is important.
J Sewell; M Daskalopoulou; F Nakagawa; FC Lampe; S Edwards; N Perry; E Wilkins; R O’Connell; M Jones; S Collins; A Speakman; AN Phillips; AJ Rodger