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Outcomes of antiretroviral therapy in northern Alberta: the impact of Aboriginal ethnicity and injection drug use Open Access


Other title
Aboriginal health
Antiretroviral therapy
Injection drug use
Type of item
Degree grantor
University of Alberta
Author or creator
Martin, Leah J.
Supervisor and department
L. Duncan Saunders, Public Health Sciences
Stan Houston, Medicine
Examining committee member and department
M. John Gill, Microbiology and Infectious Diseases, University of Calgary
Walter Kipp, Public Health Sciences
Ambikaipakan Senthilselvan, Public Health Sciences
T. Cameron Wild, Centre for Health Promotion Studies
L. Duncan Saunders, Public Health Sciences
Stan Houston, Medicine
Yutaka Yasui, Public Health Sciences
Department of Public Health Sciences

Date accepted
Graduation date
Doctor of Philosophy
Degree level
Background: Aboriginals are overrepresented in Canada’s HIV epidemic and are more likely to be infected with HIV through injection drug use (IDU) than non-Aboriginals. However, little research has investigated the outcomes of combination antiretroviral therapy (cART) among Aboriginal HIV-patients or compared outcomes between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal HIV-patients. Objectives: The primary objectives of this research were to 1) compare all-cause and HIV-related mortality rates between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal HIV-patients after they start cART, 2) determine if Aboriginal patients were less likely to achieve virological suppression and more likely to experience subsequent treatment failure after starting cART; 3) describe and compare the health-related quality of life (HRQL) of Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal HIV-patients; and 4) describe the life stability of Aboriginal and IDU HIV-patients treated with cART and explore associations between life stability, clinical status, and HRQL. Methods: This research was conducted in northern Alberta, Canada using a clinical database, vital statistics data, and data collected through interview and a self-administered HRQL questionnaire. Data analyses included multivariable Cox proportional hazards models and multiple linear and logistic regression models. Results: After starting cART, Aboriginals suffer higher rates of all-cause and HIV-related mortality than non-Aboriginals. Furthermore, Aboriginals are less likely to achieve virological suppression after starting cART and, among those who achieve suppression, Aboriginals experience higher rates of virological failure ≥1 year after suppression. Aboriginal IDUs, Aboriginal non-IDUs, and non-Aboriginal IDUs reported similarly worse physical HRQL compared to non-Aboriginals non-IDUs. Among Aboriginals and IDUs, factors significantly associated with poor clinical status were unemployment, lower income, not completing high school, homelessness, and perceiving that one’s current life was not much better compared to before starting cART. Similarly, factors significantly associated with lower HRQL in this group were unemployment, perceiving that one’s current health or one’s current life was not much better compared to before starting cART, and having a current CD4 cell count ≤350 cells/μL. Conclusions: Overall, after starting cART, Aboriginal HIV-patients suffer worse outcomes than non-Aboriginal HIV-patients. Future research should investigate adherence among Aboriginals and IDUs treated with cART and explore their treatment experiences to develop interventions to improve the prognosis of these vulnerable populations.
This thesis is made available by the University of Alberta Libraries with permission of the copyright owner solely for the purpose of private, scholarly or scientific research. This thesis, or any portion thereof, may not otherwise be copied or reproduced without the written consent of the copyright owner, except to the extent permitted by Canadian copyright law.
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