Background: Despite the high prevalence of HIV in correctional settings, the duration of therapy and response to various highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART) regimens in this setting is unknown.
Method: Using a retrospective cohort study (1997-2002) of HIV-infected prisoners in Connecticut that linked demographic, pharmacy, and laboratory data, we compared HIV-1 RNA (VL) and CD4 lymphocyte responses to four treatment strategies at baseline and at the end of incarceration.
Results: Using an analysis of 1,044 incarceration periods or 1,099 subjects for whom 6 months of continuous data were available, HAART regimens that included a triple NRTI, two NRTIs + either a PI or NNRTI, or a three-class (NRTI+NNRTI+PI) strategy demonstrated no difference in virological and immunological outcomes. The proportion of subjects who were initiated with NRTI, NNRTI, PI, or three-class regimens were 14%, 32%, 46%, and 8%, respectively. For all study groups, the mean change from baseline in CD4 and VL was +74 cells/muL and -0.93 log(10) copies/mL (p < .0001), respectively. Overall, 59% of subjects had an HIV-1 RNA level below the level of detection (<400 copies/mL) by the end of their incarceration. Using Kaplan-Meier curves to examine the time to change in the initial HAART strategy over the incarceration period, the three-class strategy was significantly more likely to be changed earlier than all others (p < .05).
Conclusion: Although the three-class strategy was less durable, initiating HAART with any strategy resulted in similar and impressive virological and immunological outcomes by the end of incarceration, further supporting prison as an important site for the initiation and provision of effective antiretroviral therapy.