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1.  Do Patterns of Comorbidity Vary by HIV Status, Age, and HIV Severity? 
Patterns of comorbidity among persons with human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) are not well described. We compared comorbidity among veterans with and without HIV infection. The sample consisted of 33,420 HIV-infected veterans and 66,840 HIV-uninfected veterans. We identified and clustered 11 comorbid conditions using validated International Classification of Diseases, 9th Revision, Clinical Modification codes. We defined multimorbidity as the presence of conditions in all clusters. Models restricted to HIV-infected veterans were adjusted for CD4 cell count and viral load. Comorbidity was common (prevalence, 60%–63%), and prevalence varied by HIV status. Differences remained when the veterans were stratified by age. In multivariable analyses, older HIV-infected veterans were more likely to have substance use disorder and multimorbidity. Renal, vascular, and pulmonary diseases were associated with CD4 cell count <200 cells/mm3; hypertension was associated with CD4 cell count >200 cells/mm3. Comorbidity is the rule, and multimorbidity is common among veterans with HIV infection. Patterns of comorbidity differ substantially by HIV status, age, and HIV severity. Primary care guidelines require adaptation for persons with HIV infection.
doi:10.1086/523577
PMCID: PMC3687553  PMID: 18190322
2.  Adherence, virological and immunological outcomes for HIV-infected veterans starting combination antiretroviral therapies 
AIDS (London, England)  2007;21(12):1579-1589.
Objectives
We aimed to determine adherence, virological, and immunological outcomes one year after starting a first combination antiretroviral therapy (ART) regimen.
Design
Observational; synthesis of administrative, laboratory, and pharmacy data. Antiretroviral regimens were divided into efavirenz, nevirapine, boosted protease inhibitor (PI), and single PI categories. Propensity scores were used to control for confounding by treatment assignment. Adherence was estimated from pharmacy refill records.
Setting
Veterans Affairs Healthcare System, all sites.
Participants
HIV-infected individuals starting combination ART with a low likelihood of previous antiretroviral exposure.
Interventions
None.
Outcomes
The proportion of antiretroviral prescriptions filled as prescribed, a change in log HIV-RNA, the proportion with log HIV-RNA viral suppression, a change in CD4 cell count.
Results
A total of 6394 individuals unlikely to have previous antiretroviral exposure started combination ART between 1996 and 2004, and were eligible for analysis. Adherence overall was low (63% of prescriptions filled as prescribed), and adherence with efavirenz (67%) and nevirapine (65%) regimens was significantly greater than adherence with boosted PI (59%) or single PI (61%) regimens (P < 0.001). Efavirenz regimens were more likely to suppress HIV-RNA at one year (74%) compared with nevirapine (62%), boosted PI (63%), or single PI (53%) regimens (all P < 0.001), and this superiority was maintained when analyses were adjusted for baseline clinical characteristics and propensity for treatment assignment. Efavirenz also yielded more favorable immunological outcomes.
Conclusion
HIV-infected individuals initiating their first combination ART using an efavirenz-based regimen had improved virological and immunological outcomes and greater adherence levels.
doi:10.1097/QAD.0b013e3281532b31
PMCID: PMC3460378  PMID: 17630553
Adherence; resistance; ART; Veterans Affairs Healthcare System
3.  Does Clinical Inertia Vary According to Provider Type? 
Despite the well established risks of persistently elevated blood pressure, as well as the benefits of controlling such elevations, hypertension remains underdiagnosed and undertreated. These VA researchers compared the rates of antihypertensive medication intensification between resident physicians, midlevel practitioners, and attending physicians.
PMCID: PMC3255094  PMID: 22247610
4.  Veterans Aging Cohort Study (VACS) 
Medical care  2006;44(8 Suppl 2):S13-S24.
Background
The Veterans Aging Cohort Study (VACS) is a study of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infected and uninfected patients seen in infectious disease and general medical clinics. VACS includes the earlier 3 and 5 site studies (VACS 3 and VACS 5) as well as the ongoing 8 site study.
Objectives
We sought to provide background and context for analyses based upon VACS data, including study design and rationale as well as its basic protocol and the baseline characteristics of the enrolled sample.
Research Design
We undertook a prospectively consented multisite observational study of veterans in care with and without HIV infection.
Measures
Data were derived from patient and provider self report, telephone interviews, blood and DNA samples, focus groups, and full access to the national VA “paperless” electronic medical record system.
Results
More than 7200 veterans have been enrolled in at least one of the studies. The 8 site study (VACS) has enrolled 2979 HIV-infected and 3019 HIV-uninfected age–race–site matched comparators and has achieved stratified enrollment targets for race/ethnicity and age and 99% of its total target enrollment as of October 30, 2005. Participants in VACS are similar to other veterans receiving care within the VA. VACS participants are older and more predominantly black than those reported by the Centers for Disease Control.
Conclusions
VACS has assembled a rich, in-depth, and representative sample of veterans in care with and without HIV infection to conduct longitudinal analyses of questions concerning the association between alcohol use and related comorbid and AIDS-defining conditions.
doi:10.1097/01.mlr.0000223741.02074.66
PMCID: PMC3049942  PMID: 16849964
HIV/AIDS; alcohol; aging veterans; data management/research design
5.  Health-Related Quality of Life in Veterans and Nonveterans with HIV/AIDS 
Journal of General Internal Medicine  2006;21(Suppl 5):S39-S47.
PURPOSE
To compare health-related quality of life (HRQoL) between patients receiving care in Veterans Administration (VA) settings (veterans) and non-VA settings (nonveterans), and to explore determinants of HRQoL and change in HRQoL over time in subjects living with HIV/AIDS.
SUBJECTS
One hundred veterans and 350 nonveterans with HIV/AIDS from 2 VA and 2 university-based sites in 3 cities interviewed in 2002 to 2003 and again 12 to 18 months later.
METHODS
We assessed health status (functional status and symptom bother), health ratings, and health values (time tradeoff [TTO] and standard gamble [SG] utilities). We also explored bivariate and multivariable associations of HRQoL measures with a number of demographic, clinical, spiritual/religious, and psychosocial characteristics.
RESULTS
Compared with nonveterans, the veteran population was older (47.7 vs 42.0 years) and consisted of a higher proportion of males (97% vs 83%), of participants with a history of injection drug use (23% vs 15%), and of subjects with unstable housing situations (14% vs 6%; P<.05 for all comparisons). On scales ranging from 0 (worst) to 100 (best), veterans reported significantly poorer overall function (mean [SD]; 65.9 [17.2] vs 71.9 [16.8]); lower rating scale scores (67.6 [21.7] vs 73.5 [21.0]), lower TTO values (75.7 [37.4] vs 89.0 [23.2]), and lower SG values (75.0 [35.8] vs 83.2 [28.3]) than nonveterans (P<.05 for all comparisons); however, in multivariable models, veteran status was only a significant determinant of SG and TTO values at baseline. Among other determinants that were associated with multiple HRQoL outcomes in baseline and follow-up multivariable analyses were: symptom bother, overall function, religiosity/spirituality, depressive symptoms, and financial worries.
CONCLUSIONS
Veterans reported significantly poorer HRQoL than nonveterans, but when controlling for other factors, veteran status was only a significant determinant of TTO and SG health values at baseline. Correlates of HRQoL such as symptom bother, spirituality/religiosity, and depressive symptoms could be fruitful potential targets for interventions to improve HRQoL in patients with HIV/AIDS.
doi:10.1111/j.1525-1497.2006.00644.x
PMCID: PMC1924783  PMID: 17083499
HIV; AIDS; quality of life; veterans

Results 1-5 (5)