Open Access Highly Accessed Research

Race/ethnicity and HAART initiation in a military HIV infected cohort

Erica N Johnson12, Mollie P Roediger13, Michael L Landrum12, Nancy F Crum-Cianflone14, Amy C Weintrob15, Anuradha Ganesan15, Jason F Okulicz12, Grace E Macalino1, Brian K Agan1* and the Infectious Disease Clinical Research Program HIV Working Group

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Preventive Medicine and Biometrics, Infectious Disease Clinical Research Program, Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences, Bethesda, MD, USA

2 Infectious Disease Service, San Antonio Military Medical Center, San Antonio, TX, USA

3 Biostatistics Division, University of Minnesota, Minnesota, MN, USA

4 Naval Health Research Center, San Diego, CA, USA

5 Infectious Disease Clinic, Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, Bethesda, MD, USA

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AIDS Research and Therapy 2014, 11:10  doi:10.1186/1742-6405-11-10

Published: 24 January 2014



Prior studies have suggested that HAART initiation may vary by race/ethnicity. Utilizing the U.S. military healthcare system, which minimizes confounding from healthcare access, we analyzed whether timing of HAART initiation and the appropriate initiation of primary prophylaxis among those at high risk for pneumocystis pneumonia (PCP) varies by race/ethnicity.


Participants in the U.S. Military HIV Natural History Study from 1998-2009 who had not initiated HAART before 1998 and who, based on DHHS guidelines, had a definite indication for HAART (CD4 <200, AIDS event or severe symptoms; Group A), an indication to consider HAART (including CD4 <350; Group B) or electively started HAART (CD4 >350; Group C) were analyzed for factors associated with HAART initiation. In a secondary analysis, participants were also evaluated for factors associated with starting primary PCP prophylaxis within four months of a CD4 count <200 cells/mm3. Multiple logistic regression was used to compare those who started vs. delayed therapy; comparisons were expressed as odds ratios (OR).


1262 participants were evaluated in the analysis of HAART initiation (A = 208, B = 637, C = 479 [62 participants were evaluated in both Groups A and B]; 94% male, 46% African American, 40% Caucasian). Race/ethnicity was not associated with HAART initiation in Groups A or B. In Group C, African American race/ethnicity was associated with lower odds of initiating HAART (OR 0.49, p = 0.04). Race and ethnicity were also not associated with the initiation of primary PCP prophylaxis among the 408 participants who were at risk.


No disparities in the initiation of HAART or primary PCP prophylaxis according to race/ethnicity were seen among those with an indication for therapy. Among those electively initiating HAART at the highest CD4 cell counts, African American race/ethnicity was associated with decreased odds of starting. This suggests that free healthcare can potentially overcome some of the observed disparities in HIV care, but that unmeasured factors may contribute to differences in elective care decisions.

HIV; HAART; Race; Ethnicity; Indications for HIV treatment; Disparities in care; African Americans