Recently published research based on selected samples of patients treated at human immunodeficiency virus clinics documents that use of more intensive antiretroviral drug therapies is responsible for significant declines in morbidity and mortality in persons living with human immunodeficiency virus or acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (PLWHAs). In this study, we evaluate whether receipt of more recently developed antiretroviral therapies varies by sex and race/ethnicity in a large population-based sample of PLWHAs and whether receipt of such drugs has any impact on survival.
Analysis of Florida Medicaid eligibility, enrollment, and claims data for PLWHAs for 1993 through 1997. Receipt of 2 nucleoside analogs (TWONUKES) and receipt of 1 protease inhibitor and a nucleoside combination (PI+NUKES) was constructed from claims data. The probability of dying was constructed from eligibility and enrollment data.
The probabilities of receiving TWONUKES and PI+NUKES are 0.16 and 0.09, respectively, lower for women relative to men (P<.01 for both). Blacks are more likely to receive TWONUKES than whites, whereas the reverse is true for Hispanics; this probability is almost 0.04 higher for blacks and 0.03 lower for Hispanics relative to whites (P<.01). In contrast, blacks are significantly less likely to receive PI+NUKES (P<.01). Both drug variables have large statistically significant negative effects on the probability of death. The PLWHAs who received PI+NUKES are 60% as likely to die each month (P<.01). Receipt of TWONUKES lowers the relative hazard of death by close to 66% each month (P<.01). Survival varies significantly by sex and race/ethnicity. Controlling for receipt of drug therapy and diagnosed health throughout the period, women are 56% as likely to die as men (P<.01). Hispanics are almost 14% less likely to die each month relative to whites (relative hazard, 0.87), and blacks are 20% more likely to die than whites (relative hazard, 1.21).
States need to investigate why women are less likely to receive antiretroviral drug therapies than men and to consider policies that might foster better access to antiretroviral therapies for women with acquired immunodeficiency syndrome because these efforts might yield even further reductions in mortality in women. Given the large reductions in mortality that accompany receipt of antiretroviral therapies, states need to foster policies that promote widespread use of new drug treatment protocols.