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Jasuja GK, Bhasin S, Rose AJ, Reisman JI, Skolnik A, Berlowitz DR, Gifford AL. Use of testosterone in men infected with human immunodeficiency virus in the veterans healthcare system. AIDS Care. 2018 Oct 1; 30(10):1207-1214.
Testosterone supplementation has been widely used in those infected with human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) for hypogonadism, and wasting. But with effective antiretroviral therapy and increasing recognition of atherosclerotic disease and adults infected with HIV, the risks of inappropriate testosterone use in HIV-infected patients are far better recognized than previously. Testosterone use has expanded among U.S. males, but few studies have examined prescribing in those infected with HIV. In a national cohort of males with at least one outpatient prescription in the Veterans Health Administration (VHA), we examined 9475 HIV-infected males, including 2484 who had received testosterone and a randomly selected 6991 who had not. For comparison, we identified 1,387,241 uninfected males (189,369 had received testosterone and a randomly selected 1,197,872 had not). We determined rates of new and prevalent testosterone use, and also examined the adequacy of the diagnostic evaluation that had preceded testosterone initiation among our HIV-infected and uninfected testosterone groups. Our main results were as follows. HIV-infected men had higher rates of initiation (0.8% vs. 0.4% in FY09; p < 0.001) and prevalence of testosterone use (2.2% vs. 0.8% in FY08; p < 0.001) compared to the uninfected men across the entire period. Trends of prescribing for both groups followed a similar pattern, rising from FY08, reaching a peak in FY13, and then dipping in FY 14. Only 1.1% of HIV-infected patients had a fully guideline-concordant workup before starting testosterone therapy, compared to 3.5% of uninfected patients (p < 0.001). In conclusion, testosterone use among HIV-infected patients in the VHA system rose to a peak in FY13 and has decreased somewhat since. Only a small minority of HIV-infected patients who receive testosterone therapy from VHA have undergone an appropriate workup before starting therapy, suggesting an opportunity for improvement.