Background: Patients disengaged from HIV care, e.g., missed medication pick-ups, not attending physician visits, account for ≥70% of new HIV infections. Re-engaging and sustaining engagement is essential to controlling the HIV pandemic. This study tested a physician-delivered evidence-based intervention, Motivational Interviewing (MI), to improve health outcomes, adherence to antiretroviral therapy (ART), HIV virologic suppression, CD4+ count, retention in HIV care, and self-efficacy among patients disengaged from care in Argentina.
Methods: Regional clinics (n = 6) were randomised to condition, MI Intervention or Enhanced Standard of Care (ESOC), and recruited N = 360 patients disengaged from HIV care. ART adherence, HIV RNA viral load, CD4+ count retention, and self-efficacy were assessed at baseline, 6, 12, 18, and 24-months. Indirect effects from condition to main outcomes were examined using patient-provider relationship as a mediator. The study was a cluster-randomised clinical trial entitled Conexiones y Opciones Positivas en la Argentina 2 (COPA2) and was registered at clinicaltrials.gov, NCT02846350.
Findings: Participants were an average age of 39·15 (SD = 10·96), 51% were women; intervention participants were older (p = ·019), and more ESOC participants were women (60% vs. 42%, p = 0·001). Using mixed models, the intervention had no effect on ART adherence over time by condition on HIV RNA viral load, CD4+ count retention, or self-efficacy. However, analysing mediated paths, there was an indirect effect of condition on ART adherence (B = 0·188, p = 0·009), HIV viral load (B = -0·095, P = 0·027), and self-efficacy (B = 0·063, P = 0·001), suggesting the intervention was associated with improved patient-provider relationships, which was in turn associated with increased ART adherence, lower HIV viral load, and higher self-efficacy.
Interpretation: These findings suggest that physician-delivered MI may enhance the patient-provider relationship, self-efficacy, and ART adherence, and reduced HIV viral load in patients disengaged from HIV care. However, these findings are preliminary due to the small number of clusters randomised, and replication is warranted.
Funding: National Institutes of Health.
Keywords: Clinical trial; Global health; HIV.