• Offering Integrated Care for HIV/AIDS, Diabetes and Hypertension within Chronic Disease Clinics in Cambodia.

      Janssens, B; Van Damme, W; Raleigh, B; Gupta, J; Khem, S; Soy Ty, K; Vun, M; Ford, N; Zachariah, R; Médecins Sans Frontières, Phnom Penh, Cambodia. b.janssens@bigfoot.com (WHO, 2007-11)
      PROBLEM: In Cambodia, care for people with HIV/AIDS (prevalence 1.9%) is expanding, but care for people with type II diabetes (prevalence 5-10%), arterial hypertension and other treatable chronic diseases remains very limited. APPROACH: We describe the experience and outcomes of offering integrated care for HIV/AIDS, diabetes and hypertension within the setting of chronic disease clinics. LOCAL SETTING: Chronic disease clinics were set up in the provincial referral hospitals of Siem Reap and Takeo, 2 provincial capitals in Cambodia. RELEVANT CHANGES: At 24 months of care, 87.7% of all HIV/AIDS patients were alive and in active follow-up. For diabetes patients, this proportion was 71%. Of the HIV/AIDS patients, 9.3% had died and 3% were lost to follow-up, while for diabetes this included 3 (0.1%) deaths and 28.9% lost to follow-up. Of all diabetes patients who stayed more than 3 months in the cohort, 90% were still in follow-up at 24 months. LESSONS LEARNED: Over the first three years, the chronic disease clinics have demonstrated the feasibility of integrating care for HIV/AIDS with non-communicable chronic diseases in Cambodia. Adherence support strategies proved to be complementary, resulting in good outcomes. Services were well accepted by patients, and this has had a positive effect on HIV/AIDS-related stigma. This experience shows how care for HIV/AIDS patients can act as an impetus to tackle other common chronic diseases.
    • Opportunities to improve storage and transportation of blood specimens for CD4 testing in a rural district in Zimbabwe using BD vacutainer CD4 stabilization tubes: a stability and diagnostic accuracy study

      Fajardo, Emmanuel; Metcalf, Carol; Mbofana, Elton; van Vyve, Charlotte; Munyaradzi, Dhodho; Simons, Sandra; Kuhudzayi, Misheck; Bygrave, Helen (BioMed Central, 2014-10-22)
      BackgroundCD4+ T-cell testing of blood specimens collected in standard EDTA Vacutainer tubes and transported at ambient temperature, must be completed within 48 hours with the BD FACSCount¿ flow cytometer, restricting specimen collection in remote clinics with no on-site testing and limited specimen transport services. We conducted a study in Buhera District, Zimbabwe, to assess the stability and accuracy of CD4+ T-cell results of samples collected in Stabilization Tubes (ST) and stored at ambient temperature for varying time periods.MethodsPaired EDTA and ST samples were collected from 51 HIV-positive patients aged 18 years and older. CD4+ T-cell testing was done on arrival in the laboratory (Day 0). ST samples were retested on Days 3, 5, and 7. Nineteen ST samples were stored for an additional week and retested on Day 14.ResultsThere was a strong correlation between absolute CD4+ T-cell counts measured in the EDTA Day 0 reference sample and Day 7 ST sample (Spearman¿s rho: 0.9778; mean difference: ¿4.9 cells/¿L and limits of agreement (LOA): 98.5 and 88.7 cells/¿L); and the reference sample and Day 14 ST sample (Spearman¿s rho: 0.9632; mean difference 5.1 cells/¿L and LOA: ¿99.6 and 109.8 cells/¿L. Using a 350 cells/¿L threshold, the sensitivity, specificity, positive predictive value (PPV) and negative predictive value (NPV) were all 100% on Day 7, and 83.3%, 100%, 100% and 92.9% on Day 14. Using a 500 cells/¿L threshold, the sensitivity, specificity, PPV and NVP were 100%, 88.5%, 88.5% and 100% on Day 7 and 88.9%, 80.0%, 80.0% and 88.9% on Day 14.ConclusionsCD4 ST can be used and stored up to 7 days as a reliable alternative to standard EDTA tubes in settings where CD4+ T-cell testing within 48 hours is not feasible. Despite the small sample size, results suggest that ST may be stored up to 14 days at room temperature for CD4 testing, without compromising accuracy. However, further studies with larger sample sizes are needed to confirm this preliminary finding.
    • Optimal Timing of Antiretroviral Treatment Initiation in HIV-Positive Children and Adolescents: a Multiregional Analysis from Southern Africa, West Africa and Europe

      Schomaker, M; Leroy, V; Wolfs, T; Technau, KG; Renner, L; Judd, A; Sawry, S; Amorissani-Folquet, M; Noguera-Julian, A; Tanser, F; Eboua, F; Navarro, Maria L; Chimbetete, C; Amani-Bosse, C; Warszawski, J; Phiri, S; N’Gbeche, S; Cox, V; Koueta, F; Giddy, J; Sygnaté-Sy, H; Raben, D; Chêne, G; Davies, MA (Oxford University Press, 2016-06-24)
      Background: There is limited knowledge about the optimal timing of antiretroviral treatment initiation in older children and adolescents. Methods: A total of 20 576 antiretroviral treatment (ART)-naïve patients, aged 1-16 years at enrolment, from 19 cohorts in Europe, Southern Africa and West Africa, were included. We compared mortality and growth outcomes for different ART initiation criteria, aligned with previous and recent World Health Organization criteria, for 5 years of follow-up, adjusting for all measured baseline and time-dependent confounders using the g-formula. Results: Median (1st;3rd percentile) CD4 count at baseline was 676 cells/mm3 (394; 1037) (children aged ≥ 1 and < 5 years), 373 (172; 630) (≥ 5 and < 10 years) and 238 (88; 425) (≥ 10 and < 16 years). There was a general trend towards lower mortality and better growth with earlier treatment initiation. In children < 10 years old at enrolment, by 5 years of follow-up there was lower mortality and a higher mean height-for-age z-score with immediate ART initiation versus delaying until CD4 count < 350 cells/mm3 (or CD4% < 15% or weight-for-age z-score < -2) with absolute differences in mortality and height-for-age z-score of 0.3% (95% confidence interval: 0.1%; 0.6%) and -0.08 (-0.09; -0.06) (≥ 1 and < 5 years), and 0.3% (0.04%; 0.5%) and -0.07 (-0.08; -0.05) (≥ 5 and < 10 years). In those aged > 10 years at enrolment we did not find any difference in mortality or growth with immediate ART initiation, with estimated differences of -0.1% (-0.2%; 0.6%) and -0.03 (-0.05; 0.00), respectively. Growth differences in children aged < 10 years persisted for treatment thresholds using higher CD4 values. Regular follow-up led to better height and mortality outcomes. Conclusions: Immediate ART is associated with lower mortality and better growth for up to 5 years in children < 10 years old. Our results on adolescents were inconclusive.
    • Out-of-pocket costs of AIDS care in China: are free antiretroviral drugs enough?

      Moon, S; Van Leemput, L; Durier, N; Jambert, E; Dahmane, A; Jie, Y; Wu, G; Philips, M; Hu, Y; Saranchuk, P; Médecins Sans Frontières, Beijing, China and Brussels, Belgium. suerie_moon@yahoo.com (2008-09)
      Financial access to HIV care and treatment can be difficult for many people in China, where the government provides free antiretroviral drugs but does not cover the cost of other medically necessary components, such as lab tests and drugs for opportunistic infections. This article estimates out-of-pocket costs for treatment and care that a person living with HIV/AIDS in China might face over the course of one year. Data comes from two treatment projects run by Médecins Sans Frontières in Nanning, Guangxi Province and Xiangfan, Hubei Province. Based on the national treatment guidelines, we estimated costs for seven different patient profiles ranging from WHO Clinical Stages I through IV. We found that patients face significant financial barriers to even qualify for the free ARV program. For those who do, HIV care and treatment can be a catastrophic health expenditure, with cumulative patient contributions ranging from approximately US$200-3939/year in Nanning and US$13-1179/year in Xiangfan, depending on the patient's clinical stage of HIV infection. In Nanning, these expenses translate as up to 340% of an urban resident's annual income or 1200% for rural residents; in Xiangfan, expenses rise to 116% of annual income for city dwellers and 295% in rural areas. While providing ARV drugs free of charge is an important step, the costs of other components of care constitute important financial barriers that may exclude patients from accessing appropriate care. Such barriers can also lead to undesirable outcomes in the future, such as impoverishment of AIDS-affected households, higher ARV drug-resistance rates and greater need for complex, expensive second-line antiretroviral drugs.
    • Outcomes after two years of providing antiretroviral treatment in Khayelitsha, South Africa.

      Coetzee, D; Hildebrand, K; Boulle, A; Maartens, G; Louis, F; Labatala, V; Reuter, H; Ntwana, N; Goemaere, E; Infectious Disease Epidemiology Unit, School of Public Health and Family Medicine, University of Cape Town, Anzio Road, Observatory 7925, South Africa. (2004-04-09)
      BACKGROUND: A community-based antiretroviral therapy (ART) programme was established in 2001 in a South African township to explore the operational issues involved in providing ART in the public sector in resource-limited settings and demonstrate the feasibility of such a service. METHODS: Data was analysed on a cohort of patients with symptomatic HIV disease and a CD4 lymphocyte count < 200 x 10 cells/l. The programme used standardized protocols (using generic medicines whenever possible), a team-approach to clinical care and a patient-centred approach to promote adherence. RESULTS: Two-hundred and eighty-seven adults naive to prior ART were followed for a median duration of 13.9 months. The median CD4 lymphocyte count was 43 x 10 cells/l at initiation of treatment, and the mean log10 HIV RNA was 5.18 copies/ml. The HIV RNA level was undetectable (< 400 copies/ml) in 88.1, 89.2, 84.2, 75.0 and 69.7% of patients at 3, 6, 12, 18 and 24 months respectively. The cumulative probability of remaining alive was 86.3% at 24 months on treatment for all patients, 91.4% for those with a baseline CD4 lymphocyte count > or =50 x 10 cells/l, and 81.8% for those with a baseline CD4 lymphocyte count < 50 x 10 cells/l. The cumulative probability of changing a single antiretroviral drug by 24 months was 15.1% due to adverse events or contraindications, and 8.4% due to adverse events alone. CONCLUSIONS: ART can be provided in resource-limited settings with good patient retention and clinical outcomes. With responsible implementation, ART is a key component of a comprehensive response to the epidemic in those communities most affected by HIV.
    • Outcomes After Virologic Failure of First-Line ART in South Africa

      Murphy, Richard A; Sunpath, Henry; Lu, Zhigang; Chelin, Neville; Losina, Elena; Gordon, Michelle; Ross, Douglas; Ewusi, Aba D; Matthews, Lynn T; Kuritzkes, Daniel R; Marconi, Vincent C; Operational Support Unit, Doctors Without Borders, New York, New York; McCord Hospital, Durban, South Africa; Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston, Massachusetts, USA; Nelson Mandela School of Medicine, Durban; St. Mary’s Hospital, Mariannhill, South Africa; Harvard Medical School; Division of Infectious Diseases, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center; Section of Retroviral Therapeutics, Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Boston, Massachusetts; Infectious Disease Service, San Antonio Military Medical Center, Fort Sam Houston, Texas; Emory University School of Medicine, Atlanta, Georgia, USA (2010-04-24)
      To determine initial 24-week outcomes among prospectively enrolled patients with failure of initial antiretroviral therapy (ART).
    • Outcomes and safety of concomitant nevirapine and rifampicin treatment under programme conditions in Malawi.

      Moses, M; Zachariah, R; Tayler-Smith, K; Misinde, D; Foncha, C; Manzi, M; Bauerfeind, A; Mwagomba, B; Kwanjana, J; Harries, A D; Médecins sans Frontières, Thyolo District, Thyolo, Malawi. (2010-02)
      SETTING: Thyolo District Hospital, rural Malawi. OBJECTIVES: To report on 1) clinical, immunological and virological outcomes and 2) safety among human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infected patients with tuberculosis (TB) who received concurrent nevirapine (NVP) and rifampicin (RMP) based treatment. DESIGN: Retrospective cohort study. METHODS: Analysis of programme data, June-December 2007. RESULTS: Of a total of 156 HIV-infected TB patients who started NVP-based antiretroviral treatment, 136 (87%) completed TB treatment successfully, 16 (10%) died and 5 (4%) were transferred out. Mean body weight and CD4 gain (adults) were respectively 4.4 kg (95%CI 3.3-5.4) and 140 cells/mm(3) (95%CI 117-162). Seventy-four per cent of patients who completed TB treatment and had a viral load performed (n = 74) had undetectable levels (<50 copies/ml), while 17 (22%) had a viral load of 50-1000 copies/ml. Hepatotoxicity was present in 2 (1.3%) patients at baseline. Two patients developed Grade 2 and one developed Grade 3 alanine transaminase enzyme elevations during TB treatment (incidence rate per 10 years of follow-up 4.2, 95%CI 1.4-13.1). There were no reported deaths linked to hepatotoxicity. CONCLUSIONS: In a rural district in Malawi, concomitant NVP and RMP treatment is associated with good TB treatment outcomes and appears safe. Further follow-up of patients would be useful to ascertain the longer-term effects of this concurrent treatment.
    • Outcomes for Efavirenz versus Nevirapine-Containing Regimens for Treatment of HIV-1 Infection: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis

      Pillay, Prinitha; Ford, Nathan; Shubber, Zara; Ferrand, Rashida A; Wits Reproductive Health and HIV Institute, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa. prinithapillay@yahoo.co.uk (PLoS, 2013-07)
      There is conflicting evidence and practice regarding the use of the non-nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitors (NNRTI) efavirenz (EFV) and nevirapine (NVP) in first-line antiretroviral therapy (ART).
    • Outcomes of a remote, decentralized health center-based HIV/AIDS antiretroviral program in Zambia, 2003 to 2007

      Elema, R; Mills, C; Yun, O; Lokuge, K; Ssonko, C; Nyirongo, N; Mtonga, V; Zulu, H; Tu, D; Verputten, M; O'Brien, D P; Médecins Sans Frontières-Holland, Lusaka/Nchelenge, Zambia; Médecins Sans Frontières-Holland, Amsterdam, Netherlands; Médecins Sans Frontières-USA, New York; Ministry of Health, Lusaka/Nchelenge, Zambia; Médecins Sans Frontières-Holland, Vancouver, Canada (2009-02-11)
      A cross-sectional study of patients living with HIV/ AIDS treated during 2003 to 2007 in decentralized, rural health centers in Zambia was performed to measure virological outcomes after 12 months of antiretroviral therapy and identify factors associated with virological failure. Data from 228 patients who started antiretroviral therapy >12 months prior were analyzed. In all, 93% received stavudine + lamivudine + nevirapine regimens, and median antiretroviral therapy duration was 23.5 months (interquartile range 20-28). Of the 205 patients tested for viral load, 177 (86%) had viral load <1000 copies/mL. Probability of developing virological failure (viral load >1000 copies/mL) was 8.9% at 24 months and 19.6% at 32 months. Predictors for virological failure were <100% adherence, body mass index <18.5 kg/m(2), and women <40 years old. Of those with virological failure who underwent 3 to 6 months of intensive adherence counseling, 45% obtained virological success. In a remote, resource-limited setting in decentralized health centers, virological and immunological assessments of patients on antiretroviral therapy >12 months showed that positive health outcomes are achievable.
    • Outcomes of antiretroviral therapy over a 10-year period of expansion: a multicohort analysis of African and Asian HIV programs.

      Grimsrud, Anna; Balkan, Suna; Casas, Esther C; Lujan, Johnny; Van Cutsem, Gilles; Poulet, Elisabeth; Myer, Landon; Pujades-Rodriguez, Mar (2014-10-01)
      Little is known about the evolution of program outcomes associated with rapid expansion of antiretroviral therapy (ART) in resource-limited settings. We describe temporal trends and assess associations with mortality and loss to follow-up (LTFU) in HIV cohorts from 8 countries.
    • Outcomes of nevirapine- and efavirenz-based antiretroviral therapy when coadministered with rifampicin-based antitubercular therapy

      Boulle, A; Van Cutsem, G; Cohen, K; Hilderbrand, K; Mathee, S; Abrahams, M; Goemaere, E; Coetzee, D; Maartens, G; School of Public Health and Family Medicine, University of Cape Town, Cape Town, South Africa; Division of Clinical Pharmacology, Department of Medicine, University of Cape Town, Cape Town, South Africa; Médecins Sans Frontières, Cape Town, South Africa; Site B Community Health Centre, Department of Health, Provincial Government of the Western Cape, Cape Town, South Africa (2008-08-06)
      CONTEXT: Rifampicin-based antitubercular therapy reduces the plasma concentrations of nevirapine and efavirenz. The virological consequences of these interactions are not well described. OBJECTIVE: To assess the effectiveness and tolerability of concomitant efavirenz- or nevirapine-based combination antiretroviral therapy and rifampicin-based antitubercular therapy. DESIGN, SETTING, AND PARTICIPANTS: Cohort analysis of prospectively collected routine clinical data in a community-based South African antiretroviral treatment program. Antiretroviral treatment-naive adults enrolled between May 2001 and June 2006 were included in the analysis, and were followed up until the end of 2006. INTERVENTIONS: Patients starting antiretroviral therapy with or without concurrent antitubercular therapy received either efavirenz or nevirapine at standard doses. Patients developing tuberculosis while taking antiretroviral therapy that included nevirapine were either changed to efavirenz or continued taking nevirapine. MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: Viral load of 400 copies/mL or more after 6, 12, and 18 months of antiretroviral therapy; time to the first viral load of 400 copies/mL or more; time to confirmed virological failure (2 consecutive values > or = 5000 copies/mL); time to death; and time to treatment-limiting toxicity were assessed. RESULTS: The analysis included 2035 individuals who started antiretroviral therapy with efavirenz (1074 with concurrent tuberculosis) and 1935 with nevirapine (209 with concurrent tuberculosis). There were no differences in time to death or substitution of either antiretroviral drug for toxicity with and without concurrent tuberculosis. Patients starting nevirapine with concurrent tuberculosis were at a higher risk of elevated viral load most notably at 6 months (16.3%; 95% confidence interval [CI], 10.6%-23.5%) than those without tuberculosis (8.3%; 95% CI, 6.7%-10.0%; adjusted odds ratio [OR], 2.1; 95% CI, 1.2-3.4; and in the combined estimate, adjusted OR, 1.7; 95% CI, 1.2-2.6). In the time-to-event analysis of confirmed virological failure (2 consecutive values of > or = 5000 copies/mL), patients starting nevirapine with concurrent tuberculosis developed virological failure sooner (adjusted hazard ratio [HR] 2.2; 95% CI, 1.3-3.7). There were no differences between patients starting efavirenz with and without concurrent tuberculosis (adjusted OR, 1.1; 95% CI, 0.8-1.5 [combined estimate] and adjusted HR, 1.1; 95% CI, 0.6-2.0, respectively). There was no difference in time to virological rebound in patients free of tuberculosis and those developing tuberculosis during follow-up while taking nevirapine (adjusted HR, 1.0; 95% CI, 0.5-2.0) or efavirenz (adjusted HR, 0.8; 95% CI, 0.4-1.7). CONCLUSION: In this cohort study, virological outcomes were inferior when nevirapine-based antiretroviral therapy was commenced while taking antitubercular treatment (vs without concurrent tuberculosis) but comparable when starting efavirenz-based antiretroviral therapy (vs without concurrent tuberculosis) or when tuberculosis developed while taking established nevirapine- or efavirenz-based therapies.
    • Outcomes of patients with Kaposi's sarcoma who start antiretroviral therapy under routine programme conditions in Malawi.

      Makombe, S D; Harries, A D; Yu, J K L; Hochgesang, M; Mhango, E; Weigel, R; Pasulani, O; Fitzgerald, M; Schouten, E J; Libamba, E; Clinical HIV Unit, Ministry of Health, PO Box 30377, Lilongwe, Malawi. (Royal Society of Medicine, 2008-01)
      AIDS-associated Kaposi's sarcoma (KS) is the most common AIDS-related malignancy in sub-Saharan Africa, with a generally unfavourable prognosis. We report on six-month and 12-month cohort treatment outcomes of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)-positive KS patients and HIV-positive non-KS patients treated with antiretroviral therapy (ART) in public sector facilities in Malawi. Data were collected from standardized antiretroviral (ARV) patient master cards and ARV patient registers. Between July and September 2005, 7905 patients started ART-488 (6%) with a diagnosis of KS and 7417 with a non-KS diagnosis. Between January and March 2005, 4580 patients started ART-326 (7%) with a diagnosis of KS and 4254 with a non-KS diagnosis. At six-months and 12-months, significantly fewer KS patients were alive and significantly more had died or defaulted compared to non-KS patients. HIV-positive KS patients on ART in Malawi have worse outcomes than other patients on ART. Methods designed to improve these outcomes must be found.
    • Outcomes of the South African National Antiretroviral Treatment Programme for children: the IeDEA Southern Africa collaboration.

      Davies, Mary-Ann; Keiser, Olivia; Technau, Karl; Eley, Brian; Rabie, Helena; van Cutsem, Gilles; Giddy, Janet; Wood, Robin; Boulle, Andrew; Egger, Matthias; Moultrie, Harry; School of Public Health and Family Medicine, University of Cape Town. Mary-Ann.Davies@uct.ac.za (2009-10)
      OBJECTIVES: To assess paediatric antiretroviral treatment (ART) outcomes and their associations from a collaborative cohort representing 20% of the South African national treatment programme. DESIGN AND SETTING: Multi-cohort study of 7 public sector paediatric ART programmes in Gauteng, Western Cape and KwaZulu-Natal provinces. SUBJECTS: ART-naive children (< or = 16 years) who commenced treatment with > or = 3 antiretroviral drugs before March 2008. OUTCOME MEASURES: Time to death or loss to follow-up were assessed using the Kaplan-Meier method. Associations between baseline characteristics and mortality were assessed with Cox proportional hazards models stratified by site. Immune status, virological suppression and growth were described in relation to duration of ART. RESULTS: The median (interquartile range) age of 6 078 children with 9 368 child-years of follow-up was 43 (15 - 83) months, with 29% being < 18 months. Most were severely ill at ART initiation. More than 75% of children were appropriately monitored at 6-monthly intervals with viral load suppression (< 400 copies/ml) being 80% or above throughout 36 months of treatment. Mortality and retention in care at 3 years were 7.7% (95% confidence interval 7.0 - 8.6%) and 81.4% (80.1 - 82.6%), respectively. Together with young age, all markers of disease severity (low weight-for-age z-score, high viral load, severe immune suppression, stage 3/4 disease and anaemia) were independently associated with mortality. CONCLUSIONS: Dramatic clinical benefit for children accessing the national ART programme is demonstrated. Higher mortality in infants and those with advanced disease highlights the need for early diagnosis of HIV infection and commencement of ART.
    • Paediatric HIV care in sub-Saharan Africa: clinical presentation and 2-year outcomes stratified by age group

      Ben-Farhat, Jihane; Gale, Marianne; Szumilin, Elisabeth; Balkan, Suna; Poulet, Elisabeth; Pujades-Rodríguez, Mar (John Wiley & Sons Ltd, 2013-09)
      To examine age differences in mortality and programme attrition amongst paediatric patients treated in four African HIV programmes.
    • Paediatric HIV testing beyond the context of prevention of mother-to-child transmission: a systematic review and meta-analysis.

      Cohn, Jennifer; Whitehouse, Katherine; Tuttle, Julia; Lueck, Kristin; Tran, Trang (2016-10)
      Many HIV-positive children in low-income and middle-income countries remain undiagnosed. Although HIV testing in children at health facilities is recommended by WHO, it is not well implemented. This systematic review and meta-analysis examines the case-finding benefit of HIV screening in children aged 0-5 years in low-income and middle-income countries.
    • Paediatric HIV Treatment Failure: A Silent Epidemic

      Bernheimer, Jonathan M; Patten, Gem; Makeleni, Thembisa; Mantangana, Nompumelelo; Dumile, Nombasa; Goemaere, Eric; Cox, Vivian (International AIDS Society, 2015-07-23)
      Paediatric antiretroviral treatment (ART) failure is an under-recognized issue that receives inadequate attention in the field of paediatrics and within HIV treatment programmes. With paediatric ART failure rates ranging from 19.3% to over 32% in resource limited settings, a comprehensive evaluation of the causes of failure along with approaches to address barriers to treatment adherence are urgently needed. In partnership with the local Department of Health, a pilot programme has been established by Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) in Khayelitsha, South Africa, to identify and support paediatric HIV patients with high viral loads and potential treatment failure. Through detailed clinical and psychosocial evaluations and adherence support with an innovative counselling model, treatment barriers are identified and addressed. Demographic and clinical characteristics from the cohort show a delayed median start date for ART, prolonged viraemia including a large number of patients who have never achieved viral load (VL) suppression, a low rate of regimen changes despite failure, and a high percentage of pre-adolescent and adolescent patients who have not gone through the disclosure process. Stemming this epidemic of paediatric treatment failure requires programmatic responses to high viral loads in children, starting with improved "case finding" of previously undiagnosed HIV-infected children and adolescents. Viral load testing needs to be prioritized over CD4 count monitoring, and flagging systems to identify high VL results should be developed in clinics. Clinicians must understand that successful treatment begins with good adherence, and that simple adherence support strategies can often dramatically improve adherence. Moreover, appropriate adherence counselling should begin not when the child fails to respond to treatment. Establishing good adherence from the beginning of treatment, and supporting ongoing adherence during the milestones in these children's lives is key to sustaining treatment success in this vulnerable HIV-infected patient population.
    • The Partec CyFlow Counter could provide an option for CD4+ T-cell monitoring in the context of scaling-up antiretroviral treatment at the district level in Malawi.

      Fryland, M; Chaillet, P; Zachariah, R; Barnaba, A; Bonte, L; Andereassen, R; Charrondière, S; Teck, R; Didakus, O; Médecins sans Frontières-Luxembourg, Thyolo District, Malawi. (Elsevier, 2006-10)
      A study was conducted in rural Malawi to verify (a) whether the Partec CyFlow Counter((R)) for CD4+ T-cell lymphocyte counting in HIV-positive individuals could be introduced into a district hospital laboratory and (b) whether it would produce CD4 counts of acceptable quality. CD4+ cell counting was performed using the Partec CyFlow Counter and the results were compared with a reference method (FACsCount). A total of 311 blood samples were analysed and the correlation coefficient for the CyFlow Counter was 0.92 (95% CI 0.89-0.95). Mean CD4 counts using the Partec and the reference methods were 308.2 cells/microl and 316.9 cells/microl, respectively. The mean difference in CD4 count values was -8.68 cells/microl (95% CI -18.8 to 1.4). Mean intra-run variation was -6.84 cells/microl (95% CI -12.9 to 0.79). In the district laboratory setting, the instrument could accommodate up to 75 blood samples per technician per day. After being trained, local laboratory staff found the CyFlow Counter procedures simple to run and the instrument easy to manipulate. The Partec CyFlow Counter produces sufficiently reliable results and the instrument appears robust under field conditions. It could provide a new option for introducing routine CD4+ cell monitoring at the district level in the context of scaling-up antiretroviral therapy in Malawi.
    • Patient and health-care worker experiences of an HIV viral load intervention using SMS: A qualitative study.

      Venables, E; Ndlovu, Z; Munyaradzi, D; Martinez-Perez, G; Mbofana, E; Nyika, P; Chidawanyika, H; Bygrave, H; Garone, D (Public Library of Science, 2019-04-11)
      Mobile Health or mHealth interventions, including Short Message Service (SMS), can help increase access to care, enhance the efficiency of health service delivery and improve diagnosis and treatment for HIV. Text messaging, or SMS, allows for the low cost transmission of information, and has been used to send appointment reminders, information about HIV counselling and treatment, messages to encourage adherence and information on nutrition and side-effects. HIV Viral Load (VL) monitoring is recommended by the WHO and has been progressively adopted in many settings. In Zimbabwe, implementation of VL is routine and has been rolled out with support of Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) since 2012. An SMS intervention to assist with the management of VL results was introduced in two rural districts of Zimbabwe. After completion of the HIV VL testing at the National Microbiology Reference Laboratory in Harare, results were sent to health facilities via SMS. Consenting patients were also sent an SMS informing them that their viral load results were ready for collection at their nearest health facilities. No actual VL results were sent to patients. A qualitative study was conducted in seven health-care facilities using in-depth interviews (n = 32) and focus group discussions (n = 5) to explore patient and health-care worker experiences of the SMS intervention. Purposive sampling was used to select participants to ensure that male and female patients, as well as those with differing VL results and who lived differing distances from the clinics were included. Data were transcribed, translated from Shona into English, coded and thematically analysed using NVivo software. The VL SMS intervention was considered acceptable to patients and health-care workers despite some challenges in implementation. The intervention was perceived by health-care workers as improving adherence and well-being of patients as well as improving the management of VL results at health facilities. However, there were some concerns from participants about the intervention, including challenges in understanding the purpose and language of the messages and patients coming to their health facility unnecessarily. Health-care workers were more concerned than patients about unintentional HIV disclosure relating to the content of the messages or phone-sharing. This was an innovative intervention in Zimbabwe, in which SMS was used to send VL results to health-care facilities, and notifications of the availability of VL results to patients. Interventions such as this have the potential to reduce unnecessary clinic visits and ensure patients with high VL results receive timely support, but they need to be properly explained, alongside routine counselling, for patients to fully benefit. The findings of this study also have potential policy implications, as if implemented well, such an SMS intervention has the potential to help patients adopt a more active role in the self-management of their HIV disease, become more aware of the importance of adherence and VL monitoring and seek follow-up at clinics when results are high.
    • Patient needs and point-of-care requirements for HIV load testing in resource-limited settings

      Usdin, Martine; Guillerm, Martine; Calmy, Alexandra; Medecins Sans Frontieres Access Campaign, Paris, France; University of Liverpool School of Public Health, Liverpool, United Kingdom; Department of Infectious Diseases, Geneva University Hospital, Geneva, Switzerland (2010-04-15)
      Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) is an international, independent medical nongovernmental organization. One way in which MSF acts to improve patient care is to assist in the identification and development of adapted and appropriate tools for use in resource-limited settings. One strategy to achieve this goal is through active collaborations with scientists and developers, to make some of the field needs known and to help define the medical strategy behind the implementation of new diagnostic tests. Tests used in the field need to be effective in often extreme conditions and must also deliver high-quality, reliable results that can be used in the local context. In this article, we discuss some patient and health care provider needs for human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) load measurement in resource-limited settings. This is just one of the areas in which effective, quality tools are desperately needed, not only by MSF and other international nongovernmental organizations, but also by many other health service providers. We hope that, by clearly defining the needs of patients in MSF clinics-as well as we can assess this-and by explaining why these tools are needed, how they should perform, and how their results can be integrated into a program, we will encourage the development of such tools and hasten their implementation in areas where they are so urgently needed.
    • Patient retention and attrition on antiretroviral treatment at district level in rural Malawi.

      Massaquoi, M; Zachariah, R; Manzi, M; Pasulani, O; Misindi, D; Mwagomba, B; Bauernfeind, A; Harries, A D; Médecins Sans Frontières, Thyolo District, Thyolo, Malawi. (Published by Elsevier, 2009-06)
      We report on rates of patient retention and attrition in the context of scaling-up antiretroviral treatment (ART) within a district hospital and its primary health centres in rural Malawi. 'Retention' was defined as being alive and on ART or transferred out, whereas 'attrition' was defined as died, lost to follow-up or stopped treatment. A total of 4074 patients were followed-up for 1803 person-years: 2904 were at the hospital and 1170 at health centres. Approximately 85% of patients were retained in care, both at hospital and health centres, with a retention rate per 100 person-years of 185 and 211, respectively [adjusted hazard ratio (HR) 1.18, 95% CI 1.10-1.28, P=0.001). Attrition rates per 100 person-years were similar: 33 and 36, respectively (adjusted HR 1.17, 95% CI 0.97-1.4, P=0.1). At health centres the incidence of loss to follow-up was significantly lower than at the hospital (adjusted HR 0.24, P<0.001, risk reduction 77%), but the rate of reported deaths was higher at health centres (adjusted HR 2.2, 95% CI 1.76-2.72, P<0.001). As Malawi continues to extend the coverage (and equity) of ART, including in rural areas, attention is needed to reduce losses to follow-up at hospital level and reduce mortality at primary care level.