Document Type



Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Public Health

First Advisor's Name

Jessy G. Dévieux

First Advisor's Committee Title

Committee Chair

Second Advisor's Name

Consuelo Beck Sague

Third Advisor's Name

Robert Dollinger

Fourth Advisor's Name

William Darrow


HIV, adherence, antiretroviral, neurocognitive, alcohol, marijuana, intervention, viral load

Date of Defense



Among people living with HIV (PLWH), adherence to antiretroviral therapy (ART) can be affected by problems of neurocognitive (NC) impairment, stress, alcohol and other drug (AOD) abuse, and other barriers. The aims of this research were to: (1) examine factors associated with NC impairment, (2) explore relationships between psychosocial variables with ART adherence and viral load (VL), and (3) evaluate the efficacy of an evidence-based intervention in improving ART adherence, increasing service utilization, and decreasing VL.

The first study (n=370) was cross sectional and used structural equation modeling to test whether AOD use, years living with HIV, and time from HIV diagnosis to seeking care were associated with poorer NC functioning. The second study (n=246) used similar methods to test the hypothesis that stress, barriers to adherence, NC impairment, poor social support, and AOD use were related to lower VL mediated by ART adherence. The third study (n=243) evaluated an evidence-based, eight-session program to improve ART adherence, reduce VL, and increase service utilization in a randomized controlled trial. Study participants were PLWH living in South Florida, 18 to 60 years old, with a history of alcohol abuse enrolled from January 2009 through November 2012.

Secondary analysis of available data showed: (1) scores on interference with executive functioning increased by 0.32 for each day of marijuana use and 1.18 for each year living with HIV, but no association was found between alcohol use and NC functioning; (2) each barrier to adherence was associated with a 10% decrease in adherence to ART and a 0.42 unit increase in VL (log10) and the relationship between barriers and VL was partially mediated by ART adherence; (3) participants in the evidence-based program were more likely than the comparison group to report an undetectable VL (OR=2.25, p

Psychosocial factors affect VL, but ART adherence is essential in achieving an undetectable VL in PLWH.





Rights Statement

Rights Statement

In Copyright. URI:
This Item is protected by copyright and/or related rights. You are free to use this Item in any way that is permitted by the copyright and related rights legislation that applies to your use. For other uses you need to obtain permission from the rights-holder(s).