Prevalence and global trends of polypharmacy among people living with HIV: A systematic review and meta-analysis


Background: There has been a rising prevalence of polypharmacy among people living with HIV (PLWH). Uncertainty however remains regarding the exact estimates of polypharmacy among these cohorts of patients.

Methods: We conducted a systematic search of PubMed; EMBASE, CROI, Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews; Science Citation Index and Database of Abstracts of Reviews of Effects for studies between 1 January 2000 and 30 June 2021 that reported on the prevalence of polypharmacy (ingestion of > 5 non-ART medications) among PLWH on antiretroviral therapy regimen (ART). Prevalence of polypharmacy among HIV-positive patients on ART with Clopper-Pearson 95% confidence intervals were presented. The heterogeneity between studies was evaluated using I2 and τ2 statistics.

Results: One hundred ninety-seven studies were initially identified, 23 met the inclusion criteria enrolling 55,988 PLWH, of which 76.7% [95% confidence interval (CI): 76.4-77.1] were male. The overall pooled prevalence of polypharmacy among PLWH was 33% (95% CI: 25-42%) (I 2 = 100%, τ2 = 0.9170, p < 0.0001). Prevalence of polypharmacy is higher in the Americas (44%, 95% CI: 27-63%) (I 2 = 100%, τ2 = 1.0886, p < 0.01) than Europe (29%, 95% CI: 20-40%) (I 2 = 100%, τ2 = 0.7944, p < 0.01).

Conclusion: The pooled prevalence estimates from this synthesis established that polypharmacy is a significant and rising problem among PLWH. The exact interventions that are likely to significantly mitigate its effect remain uncertain and will need exploration by future prospective and systematic studies.


Danjuma MI, Adegboye OA, Aboughalia A, Soliman N, Almishal R, Abdul H, Mohamed MFH, Elshafie MN, AlKhal A, Elzouki A, Al-Saud A, Chaponda M, Bidmos MA




  • Epidemiology and Determinants of Health
    • Epidemiology
  • Population(s)
    • General HIV+ population
  • Prevention, Engagement and Care Cascade
    • Engagement and Care Cascade
  • Engagement and Care Cascade
    • Treatment


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