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      HIV treatment regimens and adherence to national guidelines in Australia: an analysis of dispensing data from the Australian pharmaceutical benefits scheme

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          Treatment guidelines for antiretroviral therapy (ART) have evolved to emphasize newer regimens that address ageing-related comorbidities. Using national Australian dispensing data we compare ART regimens with Australian HIV treatment guidelines in the context of treated comorbidities.


          The study population included all individuals in a 10% sample of national data from the Australian Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) who purchased a prescription of ART during 2016. We defined each patient’s most recently dispensed ART regimen and characterized them to evaluate regimen complexity and adherence to national HIV treatment guidelines. We then analyzed ART regimens in the context of other co-prescriptions purchased for defined comorbidities.


          The 1995 patients in our sample purchased 212 different ART regimens during 2016; 1524 (76.4%) purchased one of the top ten most common regimens of which 62.3% were integrase strand transfer inhibitor-based. Among the 1786 (90%) patients that purchased the most common regimens, 83.7% purchased a regimen recommended by the guidelines for initial antiretroviral therapy and 11.4% purchased antiretrovirals that are not recommended for initial therapy; < 1% of the entire cohort purchased medications not recommended for use. While most patients purchased optimal ART regimens with low potential for significant drug interactions, regimen choices in the setting of risk factors for heart disease, renal disease and low bone mineral density appeared suboptimal.


          Australian HIV providers are prescribing ART regimens in accordance with updated treatment guidelines, but could further optimize regimens in the setting of important medical comorbidities.

          Electronic supplementary material

          The online version of this article (10.1186/s12889-018-6325-5) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.

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          Most cited references 26

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          Life expectancy of individuals on combination antiretroviral therapy in high-income countries: a collaborative analysis of 14 cohort studies.

          Combination antiretroviral therapy has led to significant increases in survival and quality of life, but at a population-level the effect on life expectancy is not well understood. Our objective was to compare changes in mortality and life expectancy among HIV-positive individuals on combination antiretroviral therapy. The Antiretroviral Therapy Cohort Collaboration is a multinational collaboration of HIV cohort studies in Europe and North America. Patients were included in this analysis if they were aged 16 years or over and antiretroviral-naive when initiating combination therapy. We constructed abridged life tables to estimate life expectancies for individuals on combination antiretroviral therapy in 1996-99, 2000-02, and 2003-05, and stratified by sex, baseline CD4 cell count, and history of injecting drug use. The average number of years remaining to be lived by those treated with combination antiretroviral therapy at 20 and 35 years of age was estimated. Potential years of life lost from 20 to 64 years of age and crude mortality rates were also calculated. 18 587, 13 914, and 10 854 eligible patients initiated combination antiretroviral therapy in 1996-99, 2000-02, and 2003-05, respectively. 2056 (4.7%) deaths were observed during the study period, with crude mortality rates decreasing from 16.3 deaths per 1000 person-years in 1996-99 to 10.0 deaths per 1000 person-years in 2003-05. Potential years of life lost per 1000 person-years also decreased over the same time, from 366 to 189 years. Life expectancy at age 20 years increased from 36.1 (SE 0.6) years to 49.4 (0.5) years. Women had higher life expectancies than did men. Patients with presumed transmission via injecting drug use had lower life expectancies than did those from other transmission groups (32.6 [1.1] years vs 44.7 [0.3] years in 2003-05). Life expectancy was lower in patients with lower baseline CD4 cell counts than in those with higher baseline counts (32.4 [1.1] years for CD4 cell counts below 100 cells per muL vs 50.4 [0.4] years for counts of 200 cells per muL or more). Life expectancy in HIV-infected patients treated with combination antiretroviral therapy increased between 1996 and 2005, although there is considerable variability between subgroups of patients. The average number of years remaining to be lived at age 20 years was about two-thirds of that in the general population in these countries.
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            Effect of clinical guidelines on medical practice: a systematic review of rigorous evaluations

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              Morbidity and aging in HIV-infected persons: the Swiss HIV cohort study.

              Patterns of morbidity and mortality among human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)-infected individuals taking antiretroviral therapy are changing as a result of immune reconstitution and improved survival. We studied the influence of aging on the epidemiology of non-AIDS diseases in the Swiss HIV Cohort Study. The Swiss HIV Cohort Study is a prospective observational cohort established in 1988 with continuous enrollment. We determined the incidence of clinical events (per 1000 person-years) from January 2008 (when a new questionnaire on non-AIDS-related morbidity was introduced) through December 2010. Differences across age groups were analyzed using Cox regression, adjusted for CD4 cell count, viral load, sex, injection drug use, smoking, and years of HIV infection. Overall, 8444 (96%) of 8848 participants contributed data from 40,720 semiannual visits; 2233 individuals (26.4%) were aged 50-64 years, and 450 (5.3%) were aged ≥65 years. The median duration of HIV infection was 15.4 years (95% confidence interval [CI], 9.59-22.0 years); 23.2% had prior clinical AIDS. We observed 994 incident non-AIDS events in the reference period: 201 cases of bacterial pneumonia, 55 myocardial infarctions, 39 strokes, 70 cases of diabetes mellitus, 123 trauma-associated fractures, 37 fractures without adequate trauma, and 115 non-AIDS malignancies. Multivariable hazard ratios for stroke (17.7; CI, 7.06-44.5), myocardial infarction (5.89; 95% CI, 2.17-16.0), diabetes mellitus (3.75; 95% CI, 1.80-7.85), bone fractures without adequate trauma (10.5; 95% CI, 3.58-30.5), osteoporosis (9.13; 95% CI, 4.10-20.3), and non-AIDS-defining malignancies (6.88; 95% CI, 3.89-12.2) were elevated for persons aged ≥65 years. Comorbidity and multimorbidity because of non-AIDS diseases, particularly diabetes mellitus, cardiovascular disease, non-AIDS-defining malignancies, and osteoporosis, become more important in care of HIV-infected persons and increase with older age.

                Author and article information

                +61 (02) 9385 0992 ,
                BMC Public Health
                BMC Public Health
                BMC Public Health
                BioMed Central (London )
                3 January 2019
                3 January 2019
                : 19
                [1 ]ISNI 0000 0004 4902 0432, GRID grid.1005.4, Kirby Institute, UNSW Sydney, ; Wallace Wurth Building, Sydney, NSW 2052 Australia
                [2 ]Prospection Pty Ltd, Eveleigh, NSW Australia
                © The Author(s). 2019

                Open AccessThis article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were made. The Creative Commons Public Domain Dedication waiver ( applies to the data made available in this article, unless otherwise stated.

                Funded by: FundRef, Merck Sharp and Dohme;
                Funded by: Kirby Institute, University of New South Wales
                Research Article
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                © The Author(s) 2019


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