Directly observed antiretroviral therapy improves adherence and viral load in drug users attending methadone maintenance clinics: a randomized controlled trial.

Berg KM, Litwin A, Li X, Heo M, Arnsten JH.

Drug Alcohol Depend. 2011 Jan 15;113(2-3):192-9. doi: 10.1016/j.drugalcdep.2010.07.025. Epub 2010 Sep 15.

OBJECTIVE: To determine if directly observed antiretroviral therapy (DOT) is more efficacious than self-administered therapy for improving adherence and reducing HIV viral load (VL) among methadone-maintained opioid users. DESIGN: Two-group randomized trial. SETTING: Twelve methadone maintenance clinics with on-site HIV care in the Bronx, New York. PARTICIPANTS: HIV-infected adults prescribed combination antiretroviral therapy. MAIN OUTCOMES MEASURES: Between group differences at four assessment points from baseline to week 24 in: (1) antiretroviral adherence measured by pill count, (2) VL, and (3) proportion with undetectable VL (< 75 copies/ml). RESULTS: Between June 2004 and August 2007, we enrolled 77 participants. Adherence in the DOT group was higher than in the control group at all post-baseline assessment points; by week 24 mean DOT adherence was 86% compared to 56% in the control group (p < 0.0001). Group differences in mean adherence remained significant after stratifying by baseline VL (detectable versus undetectable). In addition, during the 24-week intervention, the proportion of DOT participants with undetectable VL increased from 51% to 71%. CONCLUSIONS: Among HIV-infected opioid users, antiretroviral DOT administered in methadone clinics was efficacious for improving adherence and decreasing VL, and these improvements were maintained over a 24-week period. DOT should be more widely available to methadone patients.

PMID: 20832196

From MEDLINE®/PubMed®, a database of the U.S. National Library of Medicine.