Substance Use and Depression Impede ART Adherence Among Female Sex Workers Living with HIV in the Dominican Republic

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date



AIDS and behavior




ART adherence; Depression; HIV; Sex work; Substance use


Female sex workers (FSW) have worse HIV outcomes in part due to lower anti-retroviral therapy (ART) adherence. Substance use and depression are important barriers to ART adherence, yet few studies have assessed these relationships among FSW in longitudinal studies. Cross-Lagged Panel Models and autoregressive mediation analyses assessed substance use (illicit drug use and alcohol use disorders) in relation to ART non-adherence and the mediation role of depressive symptoms among 240 FSW living with HIV in the Dominican Republic. In annual visits (T1, T2, T3), the majority (70%, 66%, and 53%) reported at-risk drinking and 15%, 13% and 9% used illicit drug during the past 6 months. Most FSW (70%, 62% and 46%) had mild-to-severe depression. Illicit drug use predicted later ART non-adherence. This relationship was not mediated via depressive symptoms. Integrated substance use and HIV care interventions are needed to promote ART adherence and viral suppression among FSW.


Prevention and Community Health