UBC Faculty Research and Publications

Structural barriers to antiretroviral therapy among sex workers living with HIV : Findings of a longitudinal study in Vancouver, Canada Goldenberg, Shira M.; Montaner, Julio; Duff, Putu; Nguyen, Paul; Dobrer, Sabina; Guillemi, Silvia; Shannon, Kate


In light of limited data on structural determinants of access and retention in antiretroviral therapy (ART) among sex workers, we examined structural correlates of ART use among sex workers living with HIV over time. Longitudinal data were drawn from a cohort of 646 female sex workers in Vancouver, Canada (2010–2012) and linked pharmacy records on ART dispensation. We used logistic regression with generalized estimating equations (GEE) to examine correlates of gaps in ART use (i.e., treatment interruptions or delayed ART initiation), among sex workers living with HIV (n=74). Over a 2.5-year period, 37.8% of participants experienced gaps in ART use (i.e., no ART dispensed in a six-month period). In a multivariable GEE model, younger age, migration/mobility, incarceration, and non-injection drug use independently correlated with gaps in ART use. In spite of successes scaling-up ART in British Columbia, younger, mobile, or incarcerated sex workers face persistent gaps in access and retention irrespective of drug use. Community-based, tailored interventions to scale-up entry and retention in ART for sex workers should be further explored in this setting.

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