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Vision Problems As a Contributor to Lower Engagement in Care Among Aging Men Living with HIV.

PURPOSE: To investigate vision impairment as a barrier to engagement in medical care among aging persons living with HIV (PLWH) who experience multimorbidity and complex care needs.

SETTING: Multicenter AIDS Cohort Study (MACS), a prospective observational cohort of aging PLWH men.

METHODS: We examined relationships of self-reported vision difficulty with indicators of care engagement: 1) adherence to HIV antiretroviral therapy (ART; defined as taking ≥95% of medications); 2) self-reported avoidance of medical care; 3) self-reported tendency to ask a doctor questions about care (>2 questions at a medical visit), as well as with quality of life. A modified version of the National Eye Institute Vision Function Questionnaire was administered at three semi-annual visits (from October 2017 to March 2019) to assess difficulty performing vision-dependent tasks.

RESULTS: We included 1063 PLWH (median age 57 years, 31% Black). Data on care engagement outcomes were analyzed using repeated measures logistic regression with generalized estimating equations adjusted for race, and at visit values for age, education level, depressive symptoms, alcohol use, and smoking status. Compared to no vision difficulty, those reporting moderate to extreme vision difficulty on at least one task had 2.2 times higher odds (95% CI: 1.4, 3.4) of having less than optimal ART adherence, 1.9 times higher odds (95% CI: 1.1, 3.4) of avoiding necessary medical care and median quality of life scores 8 points lower.

CONCLUSION: These findings suggest vision impairment decreases medical care engagement including HIV care and quality of life among aging PLWH.

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