National Survey Identifies Potential Barriers to HIV Treatment Use in U.S.

Key findings point to significant differences between treated and untreated people living with HIV

/ PRNewswire / — ViiV Healthcare today announced new survey data that provide important insights that may help explain why HIV treatment rates remain low in the United States. Findings from the online survey, conducted by Harris Interactive on behalf of ViiV Healthcare in 2013, reveal gaps in knowledge about HIV and its treatment among diagnosed but untreated people living with HIV (PLWHIV), as well as misperceptions about HIV prescription medicine and fewer positive perceptions of overall well-being compared to those of PLWHIV who are treating their disease.
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Both the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Department of Health and Human Services recommend early treatment for the benefit of the HIV patient.i Still, many PLWHIV do not initiate therapy at the time of diagnosis, if at all. In fact, despite significant strides in HIV therapy and access, only 33 percent of the 1.1 million Americans living with HIV are taking the medicines they need to live longer, healthier lives and reduce the chance of passing the disease on to a partner.ii

“There is mounting evidence clearly establishing many personal and public health benefits that go along with HIV treatment. Earlier treatment and a suppressed viral load help reduce the number of new infections and slow the virus' ability to damage the body.iii But this survey shows that gaps in knowledge about treatment among people living with HIV may serve as potential barriers to antiretroviral therapy,” said Julie Scofield, Executive Director, National Alliance of State & Territorial AIDS Directors. “Educating people about the importance and benefits of HIV treatment is critical, as is improving linkages to and retaining people in care – particularly in communities of color, where later-stage AIDS diagnoses are more common than earlier-stage HIV diagnoses.”

The survey findings point to the following four potential barriers to treatment use by comparing the reported perceptions and experiences of HIV-positive adults (aged 18+) who had never taken a prescription medicine to treat their HIV (“untreated patients”) to those who had begun taking a prescription medicine to treat their HIV in the past five years (“treated patients”):

Limited disease-specific knowledge. Untreated patients are less knowledgeable about HIV and its potential effects than treated patients.

  • Only 38 percent of untreated patients believe that HIV attacks the immune system and body even if the person with HIV does not feel sick, compared to 63 percent of treated patients.iv
  • Thirty-nine percent of untreated patients believe the human body has a natural ability to fight HIV, compared to 16 percent of treated patients.iv

Limited treatment-specific knowledge. Untreated patients also have limited treatment-specific knowledge and cite reasons for not using HIV prescription medicine that are inconsistent with available data or current treatment guidelines.

  • Data show that HIV-positive patients who take HIV prescription medicine reduce their risk of transmitting the virus to someone else by 96 percent,v but only 25 percent of untreated patients are aware that being on a HIV prescription medicine reduces that risk.iv
  • Despite its proven efficacy, only 28 percent of untreated patients believe that HIV prescription medicine controls the negative effects of the disease.iv

Misperceptions regarding treatment use. The reported perceptions of HIV prescription medicine among untreated patients were somewhat negative and inconsistent with the reported experiences of treated patients.

  • Nearly one third (30 percent) of untreated patients believe that the side effects of HIV prescription medicine are worse than HIV itself, but only 15 percent of treated patients report this to be the case.iv
  • Eighty percent of treated patients believe that their HIV prescription medicine makes them feel better and they can focus on the important things in their life, and 56 percent say that it has had a positive impact on their overall health and well-being. However, one in five (20 percent) of untreated patients don't currently take HIV prescription medicine because they believe once they start, they'll need to be on it for the rest of their lives.iv

Fewer positive perceptions of overall well-being.

  • Untreated patients are less likely than treated patients to agree that their disease is well controlled (84 percent vs. 91 percent) and less likely to agree they will live a full life despite their HIV (72 percent vs. 83 percent).iv

“Despite the availability of effective HIV medicines and care in the U.S., several barriers to accessing treatment exist, and these are compounded by negative patient perceptions and emotional barriers to starting treatment. These survey findings shed light on some of those perceptual barriers,” said Bill Collier, Head of North America, ViiV Healthcare. “Our goal with this survey is to contribute to the ongoing dialogue about the importance of HIV treatment, to help stakeholders understand these barriers better and, ultimately, to help improve treatment rates and retention to care.”

About the survey
This survey was conducted online within the United States by Harris Interactive on behalf of ViiV Healthcare from May 16 to June 14, 2013, among 251 U.S. adults (aged 18+) who had been diagnosed with HIV and either had never taken HIV prescription medicine (“untreated patients”) or were, at that time, taking prescription medicine and had begun treatment within the past five years (“treated patients”). The majority of respondents were male, aged 18 to 44.

The survey was also conducted online in six local markets (New York, N.Y.; Miami, Fla.; Dallas-Ft. Worth, Texas; San Francisco-Oakland, Calif.; Chicago, Ill.; Atlanta, Ga.) from May 16 to October 8, 2013, among 729 adults (aged 18+) who had been diagnosed with HIV and either had never taken HIV prescription medicine (“untreated”) or were, at that time, taking prescription medicine and had begun treatment within the past five years (“treated”). The unweighted national sample and the clinic-recruited local market data were combined to create statistically more viable subsamples of untreated patients (n=159) and treated patients (n=752).

This online survey is not based on a probability sample and therefore no estimate of theoretical sampling error can be calculated.

About ViiV Healthcare
ViiV Healthcare is a global specialist HIV company established in November 2009 by GlaxoSmithKline (LSE: GSK) and Pfizer (NYSE: PFE) dedicated to delivering advances in treatment and care for people living with HIV. Shionogi joined as a 10 percent shareholder in October 2012. The company's aim is to take a deeper and broader interest in HIV/AIDS than any company has done before and take a new approach to deliver effective and new HIV medicines, as well as support communities affected by HIV. For more information on the company, its management, portfolio, pipeline and commitment, please visit www.viivhealthcare.com.

ViiV Healthcare U.S. Media Inquiries:
Marc Meachem
919 483 8756

i Department of Health and Human Services. “Guidelines for the Use of Antiretroviral Agents in HIV-1-infected Adults and Adolescents.” Updated February 2013. Accessed From http://aidsinfo.nih.gov/guidelines/html/1/adult-and-adolescent-arv-guidelines/0/. Referenced on March 18, 2014.
ii Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. CDC Fact Sheet: “HIV in the United States: The Stages of Care.” Updated July 2012. Accessed From http://www.cdc.gov/hiv/pdf/research_mmp_StagesofCare.pdf. Referenced on March 13, 2014.
iii Anglemyer A, Rutherford G, Easterbrook P, et al. “Early Initiation of Antiretroviral Therapy (ART) for Individuals With HIV Infection: A Systematic Review.” 7th IAS Conference on HIV Pathogenesis, Treatment and Prevention, June 30-July 3, 2013, Kuala Lumpur. Abstract TUPE302. Accessed From http://www.natap.org/2013/IAS/IAS_16.htm. Referenced on March 18, 2014.
iv ViiV Healthcare-Harris Interactive Survey.
v National Institutes of Health. “Treating HIV-infected People With Antiretrovirals Protects Partners From Infection.” Updated May 2011. Accessed From http://www.niaid.nih.gov/news/newsreleases/2011/pages/hptn052.aspx. Referenced on March 18, 2014.