Adherence to HIV postexposure prophylaxis: A systematic review and meta-analysis

Nathan Ford, Cadi Irvine, Zara Shubber, Rachel Baggaley, Rachel Beanland, Marco Vitoria, Meg Doherty, Edward J. Mills, Alexandra Calmy

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

49 Scopus citations


Introduction: We evaluated variations in completion rates for HIV postexposure prophylaxis (PEP) according to the exposure type (occupational, nonoccupational, and sexual assault), patient, and programme characteristics. Methods: Four major databases were searched together with conference abstract databases from inception to 1 December 2013, updated in PubMed on 1 June 2014. Randomized and nonrandomized studies reporting completion rates for PEP were included regardless of exposure type, age, or geographical location and data pooled using random-effects meta-analysis. Results: Ninety-seven studies, reporting outcomes on 21 462 PEP initiations, were reviewed. Nonoccupational exposure to HIV was the main reason for PEP in 34 studies (n=11 840), occupational exposure in 22 studies (n=3058), sexual assault in 26 studies (n=3093), and the remainder of studies (15 studies, n=3471) reported outcomes for mixed exposures. Overall, 56.6% [95% confidence (CI) 50.9-62.2%; τ2 0.25] of people considered eligible for PEP completed the full standard 28-day course. Compared with the overall estimate of PEP completion, rates were highest for studies reporting PEP for nonoccupational exposures (65.6%, 95% CI 55.6-75.6%) and lowest for sexual assault (40.2%, 95% CI 31.2-49.2%); higher rates of PEP completion were also reported for MSM (67.2%, 95% CI 59.5-74.9%). Completion rates appeared to be lower for adolescents (36.6%, 95% CI 4.0-69.2%) compared with adults (59.1%, 95% CI 53.9-64.2%) or children (64.0%, 95% CI 41.2-86.8%). Conclusion: Adherence to a full 28-day course of antiretroviral drugs prescribed for PEP is poor. Efforts should be made to simplify guidelines for prescribers and support adherence for people taking PEP, with particular attention needed for adolescents and victims of sexual assault.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2721-2727
Number of pages7
Issue number18
StatePublished - 2014


  • Adherence
  • Antiretrovirals
  • Nonoccupational exposure
  • Occupational exposure
  • Postexposure prophylaxis
  • Sexual assault

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology and Allergy
  • Immunology
  • Infectious Diseases


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