• Decreased risk of HIV-associated TB during antiretroviral therapy expansion in rural Eswatini from 2009 to 2016: a cohort and population-based analysis

      Kerschberger, B; Schomaker, M; Telnov, A; Vambe, D; Kisyeri, N; Sikhondze, W; Pasipamire, L; Ngwenya, SM; Rusch, B; Ciglenecki, I; et al. (John Wiley & Sons, 2019-07-16)
      This paper assesses patient- and population-level trends in TB notifications during rapid expansion of antiretroviral therapy in Eswatini which has an extremely high incidence of both TB and HIV. METHODS: Patient- and population-level predictors and rates of HIV-associated TB were examined in the Shiselweni region in Eswatini from 2009 to 2016. Annual population-level denominators obtained from projected census data and prevalence estimates obtained from population-based surveys were combined with individual-level TB treatment data. Patient- and population-level predictors of HIV-associated TB were assessed with multivariate logistic and multivariate negative binomial regression models. RESULTS: Of 11 328 TB cases, 71.4% were HIV co-infected and 51.8% were women. TB notifications decreased fivefold between 2009 and 2016, from 1341 to 269 cases per 100 000 person-years. The decline was sixfold in PLHIV vs. threefold in the HIV-negative population. Main patient-level predictors of HIV-associated TB were recurrent TB treatment (adjusted odds ratio [aOR] 1.40, 95% confidence interval [CI]: 1.19-1.65), negative (aOR 1.31, 1.15-1.49) and missing (aOR 1.30, 1.11-1.53) bacteriological status and diagnosis at secondary healthcare level (aOR 1.18, 1.06-1.33). Compared with 2009, the probability of TB decreased for all years from 2011 (aOR 0.69, 0.58-0.83) to 2016 (aOR 0.54, 0.43-0.69). The most pronounced population-level predictor of TB was HIV-positive status (adjusted incidence risk ratio 19.47, 14.89-25.46). CONCLUSIONS: This high HIV-TB prevalence setting experienced a rapid decline in TB notifications, most pronounced in PLHIV. Achievements in HIV-TB programming were likely contributing factors.
    • Point-of-care viral load monitoring: outcomes from a decentralized HIV programme in Malawi.

      Nicholas, S; Poulet, E; Wolters, L; Wapling, J; Rakesh, A; Amoros, I; Szumilin, E; Gueguen, M; Schramm, B (John Wiley & Sons, 2019-08-01)
      INTRODUCTION: Routinely monitoring the HIV viral load (VL) of people living with HIV (PLHIV) on anti-retroviral therapy (ART) facilitates intensive adherence counselling and faster ART regimen switch when treatment failure is indicated. Yet standard VL-testing in centralized laboratories can be time-intensive and logistically difficult in low-resource settings. This paper evaluates the outcomes of the first four years of routine VL-monitoring using Point-of-Care technology, implemented by Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) in rural clinics in Malawi. METHODS: We conducted a retrospective cohort analysis of patients eligible for routine VL- testing between 2013 and 2017 in four decentralized ART-clinics and the district hospital in Chiradzulu, Malawi. We assessed VL-testing coverage and the treatment failure cascade (from suspected failure (first VL>1000 copies/mL) to VL suppression post regimen switch). We used descriptive statistics and multivariate logistic regression to assess factors associated with suspected failure. RESULTS AND DISCUSSION: Among 21,400 eligible patients, VL-testing coverage was 85% and VL suppression was found in 89% of those tested. In the decentralized clinics, 88% of test results were reviewed on the same day as blood collection, whereas in the district hospital the median turnaround-time for results was 85 days. Among first-line ART patients with suspected failure (N = 1544), 30% suppressed (VL<1000 copies/mL), 35% were treatment failures (confirmed by subsequent VL-testing) and 35% had incomplete VL follow-up. Among treatment failures, 80% (N = 540) were switched to a second-line regimen, with a higher switching rate in the decentralized clinics than in the district hospital (86% vs. 67%, p < 0.01) and a shorter median time-to-switch (6.8 months vs. 9.7 months, p < 0.01). Similarly, the post-switch VL-testing rate was markedly higher in the decentralized clinics (61% vs. 26%, p < 0.01). Overall, 79% of patients with a post-switch VL-test were suppressed. CONCLUSIONS: Viral load testing at the point-of-care in Chiradzulu, Malawi achieved high coverage and good drug regimen switch rates among those identified as treatment failures. In decentralized clinics, same-day test results and shorter time-to-switch illustrated the game-changing potential of POC-based VL-testing. Nevertheless, gaps were identified along all steps of the failure cascade. Regular staff training, continuous monitoring and creating demand are essential to the success of routine VL-testing.
    • Programmatic outcomes and impact of rapid public sector antiretroviral therapy expansion in adults prior to introduction of the WHO treat-all approach in rural Eswatini.

      Boulle, A; Teck, R; Lukhele, N; Rusch, B; Telnov, A; Mabhena, E; Pasipamire, L; Ciglenecki, I; Schomaker, M; Kerschberger, B (John Wiley & Sons, 2019-04-01)
      To assess long-term antiretroviral therapy (ART) outcomes during rapid HIV programme expansion in the public sector of Eswatini (formerly Swaziland). This is a retrospectively established cohort of HIV-positive adults (≥16 years) who started first-line ART in 25 health facilities in Shiselweni (Eswatini) between 01/2006 and 12/2014. Temporal trends in ART attrition, treatment expansion and ART coverage were described over 9 years. We used flexible parametric survival models to assess the relationship between time to ART attrition and covariates. Of 24 772 ART initiations, 6% (n = 1488) occurred in 2006, vs. 13% (n = 3192) in 2014. Between these years, median CD4 cell count at ART initiation increased (113-265 cells/mm Programmatic outcomes improved during large expansion of the treatment cohort and increased ART coverage. Changes in ART programming may have contributed to better outcomes.