Substance Use, Violence, and Antiretroviral Adherence: A Latent Class Analysis of Women Living with HIV in Canada


We used latent class analysis to identify substance use patterns for 1363 women living with HIV in Canada and assessed associations with socio-economic marginalization, violence, and sub-optimal adherence to combination antiretroviral therapy (cART). A six-class model was identified consisting of: abstainers (26.3%), Tobacco Users (8.81%), Alcohol Users (31.9%), ‘Socially Acceptable’ Poly-substance Users (13.9%), Illicit Poly-substance Users (9.81%) and Illicit Poly-substance Users of All Types (9.27%). Multinomial logistic regression showed that women experiencing recent violence had significantly higher odds of membership in all substance use latent classes, relative to Abstainers, while those reporting sub-optimal cART adherence had higher odds of being members of the poly-substance use classes only. Factors significantly associated with Illicit Poly-substance Users of All Types were sexual minority status, lower income, and lower resiliency. Findings underline a need for increased social and structural supports for women who use substances to support them in leading safe and healthy lives with HIV.

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The Canadian HIV Women’s Sexual and Reproductive Health Cohort Study (CHIWOS) Research Team would like to especially thank all of the women living with HIV who participate in this research. We also thank the entire national team of Co-Investigators, Collaborators, and Peer Research Associates. We would like to acknowledge the national Steering Committee, the three provincial Community Advisory Boards, the national CHIWOS Aboriginal Advisory Board, and our partnering organizations for supporting the study, especially those who provide interview space and support to our Peer Research Associates.


CHIWOS is funded by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR, MOP111041); the CIHR Canadian HIV Trials Network (CTN 262); the Ontario HIV Treatment Network (OHTN); and the Academic Health Science Centres (AHSC) Alternative Funding Plans (AFP) Innovation Fund. AC received support from a CIHR Doctoral Award. AdP received support from Fonds de Recherche du Quebéc – Santé (FRQS) (Chercheur-boursier clinicien – Junior 1). AK received salary support through a Tier 2 Canada Research Chair in Global Perspectives on HIV and Sexual and Reproductive Health. M-JM is supported in part by the United States National Institutes of Health (R01-DA0251525), a Scholar Award from the Michael Smith Foundation for Health Research and a New Investigator Award from CIHR. His institution has received unstructured funding to support his research from NG Biomed, Ltd.

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Corresponding author

Correspondence to Angela Kaida.

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All authors declare that they have no conflicts of interest.

Ethical Approval

All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.

Informed Consent

Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.

Additional information

Additional research team members and affiliated institutions are listed below in Appendix.



Chiwos Research Team

British Columbia Aranka Anema (University of British Columbia), Denise Becker (Positive Living Society of British Columbia), Lori Brotto (University of British Columbia), Allison Carter (British Columbia Centre for Excellence in HIV/AIDS and Simon Fraser University), Claudette Cardinal (Simon Fraser University), Guillaume Colley (British Columbia Centre for Excellence in HIV/AIDS), Erin Ding (British Columbia Centre for Excellence), Janice Duddy (Pacific AIDS Network), Nada Gataric (British Columbia Centre for Excellence in HIV/AIDS), Robert S. Hogg (British Columbia Centre for Excellence in HIV/AIDS and Simon Fraser University), Terry Howard (Positive Living Society of British Columbia), Shahab Jabbari (British Columbia Centre for Excellence), Evin Jones (Pacific AIDS Network), Mary Kestler (Oak Tree Clinic, BC Women’s Hospital and Health Centre), Andrea Langlois (Pacific AIDS Network), Viviane Lima (British Columbia Centre for Excellence in HIV/AIDS), Elisa Lloyd-Smith (Providence Health Care), Melissa Medjuck (Positive Women’s Network), Cari Miller (Simon Fraser University), Deborah Money (Women’s Health Research Institute), Valerie Nicholson (Simon Fraser University), Gina Ogilvie (British Columbia Centre for Disease Control), Sophie Patterson (Simon Fraser University), Neora Pick (Oak Tree Clinic, BC Women’s Hospital and Health Centre), Eric Roth (University of Victoria), Kate Salters (Simon Fraser University), Margarite Sanchez (ViVA, Positive Living Society of British Columbia), Jacquie Sas (CIHR Canadian HIV Trials Network), Paul Sereda (British Columbia Centre for Excellence in HIV/AIDS), Marcie Summers (Positive Women’s Network), Christina Tom (Simon Fraser University, BC), Clara Wang (British Columbia Centre for Excellence), Kath Webster (Simon Fraser University), Wendy Zhang (British Columbia Centre for Excellence in HIV/AIDS).

Ontario Rahma Abdul-Noor (Women’s College Research Institute), Jonathan Angel (Ottawa Hospital Research Institute), Fatimatou Barry (Women’s College Research Institute), Greta Bauer (University of Western Ontario), Kerrigan Beaver (Women’s College Research Institute), Anita Benoit (Women’s College Research Institute), Breklyn Bertozzi (Women’s College Research Institute), Sheila Borton (Women’s College Research Institute), Tammy Bourque (Women’s College Research Institute), Jason Brophy (Children's Hospital of Eastern Ontario), Ann Burchell (Ontario HIV Treatment Network), Allison Carlson (Women’s College Research Institute), Lynne Cioppa (Women’s College Research Institute), Jeffrey Cohen (Windsor Regional Hospital), Tracey Conway (Women’s College Research Institute), Curtis Cooper (Ottawa Hospital Research Institute), Jasmine Cotnam (Women’s College Research Institute), Janette Cousineau (Women’s College Research Institute), Marisol Desbiens (Women’s College Research Institute), Annette Fraleigh (Women’s College Research Institute), Brenda Gagnier (Women’s College Research Institute), Claudine Gasingirwa (Women’s College Research Institute), Saara Greene (McMaster University), Trevor Hart (Ryerson University), Shazia Islam (Women’s College Research Institute), Charu Kaushic (McMaster University), Logan Kennedy (Women’s College Research Institute), Desiree Kerr (Women’s College Research Institute), Maxime Kiboyogo (McGill University Health Centre), Gladys Kwaramba (Women’s College Research Institute), Lynne Leonard (University of Ottawa), Johanna Lewis (Women’s College Research Institute), Carmen Logie (University of Toronto), Shari Margolese (Women’s College Research Institute), Marvelous Muchenje (Women’s Health in Women’s Hands), Mary (Muthoni) Ndung'u (Women’s College Research Institute), Kelly O’Brien (University of Toronto), Charlene Ouellette (Women’s College Research Institute), Jeff Powis (Toronto East General Hospital), Corinna Quan (Windsor Regional Hospital), Janet Raboud (Ontario HIV Treatment Network), Anita Rachlis (Sunnybrook Health Science Centre), Edward Ralph (St. Joseph’s Health Care), Sean Rourke (Ontario HIV Treatment Network), Sergio Rueda (Ontario HIV Treatment Network), Roger Sandre (Haven Clinic), Fiona Smaill (McMaster University), Stephanie Smith (Women’s College Research Institute), Tsitsi Tigere (Women’s College Research Institute), Wangari Tharao (Women’s Health in Women’s Hands), Sharon Walmsley (Toronto General Research Institute), Wendy Wobeser (Kingston University), Jessica Yee (Native Youth Sexual Health Network), Mark Yudin (St-Michael’s Hospital).

Québec Dada Mamvula Bakombo (McGill University Health Centre), Jean-Guy Baril (Université de Montréal), Nora Butler Burke (University Concordia), Pierrette Clément (McGill University Health Center), Janice Dayle, (McGill University Health Centre), Danièle Dubuc, (McGill University Health Centre), Mylène Fernet (Université du Québec à Montréal), Danielle Groleau (McGill University), Ken Montheith (COCQ-SIDA), Marina Klein (McGill University Health Centre), Carrie Martin (Native Women’s Shelter of Montreal), Lyne Massie, (Université de Québec à Montréal), Brigitte Ménard, (McGill University Health Centre), Nadia O'Brien (McGill University Health Centre and Université de Montréal), Joanne Otis (Université du Québec à Montréal), Doris Peltier (Canadian Aboriginal AIDS Network), Alie Pierre, (McGill University Health Centre), Karène Proulx-Boucher (McGill University Health Centre), Danielle Rouleau (Centre Hospitalier de l’Université de Montréal), Édénia Savoie (McGill University Health Centre), Cécile Tremblay (Centre Hospitalier de l’Université de Montréal), Benoit Trottier (Clinique l’Actuel), Sylvie Trottier (Centre Hospitalier Universitaire de Québec), Christos Tsoukas (McGill University Health Centre).

Other Canadian provinces or international jurisdictions Jacqueline Gahagan (Dalhousie University), Catherine Hankins (University of Amsterdam and McGill University), Renee Masching (Canadian Aboriginal AIDS Network), Susanna Ogunnaike-Cooke (Public Health Agency of Canada).

All other CHIWOS Research Team Members who wish to remain anonymous.

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Carter, A., Roth, E.A., Ding, E. et al. Substance Use, Violence, and Antiretroviral Adherence: A Latent Class Analysis of Women Living with HIV in Canada. AIDS Behav 22, 971–985 (2018).

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  • Substance use
  • Violence
  • Antiretroviral adherence
  • Women