, Volume 30, Issue 8, pp 613-628,
Open Access This content is freely available online to anyone, anywhere at any time.
Date: 06 Jun 2013

The Next Therapeutic Challenge in HIV: Polypharmacy

Abstract

With the adoption of combination antiretroviral therapy (ART), most HIV-infected individuals in care are on five or more medications and at risk of harm from polypharmacy, a risk that likely increases with number of medications, age, and physiologic frailty. Established harms of polypharmacy include decreased medication adherence and increased serious adverse drug events, including organ system injury, hospitalization, geriatric syndromes (falls, fractures, and cognitive decline) and mortality. The literature on polypharmacy among those with HIV infection is limited, and the literature on polypharmacy among non-HIV patients requires adaptation to the special issues facing those on chronic ART. First, those aging with HIV infection often initiate ART in their 3rd or 4th decade of life and are expected to remain on ART for the rest of their lives. Second, those with HIV may be at higher risk for age-associated comorbid disease, further increasing their risk of polypharmacy. Third, those with HIV may have an enhanced susceptibility to harm from polypharmacy due to decreased organ system reserve, chronic inflammation, and ongoing immune dysfunction. Finally, because ART is life-extending, nonadherence to ART is particularly concerning. After reviewing the relevant literature, we propose an adapted framework with which to address polypharmacy among those on lifelong ART and suggest areas for future work.