• Preferred antiretroviral drugs for the next decade of scale up

      Andrieux-Meyer, Isabelle; Calmy, Alexandra; Cahn, Pedro; Clayden, Polly; Raguin, Gilles; Katlama, Christine; Vitoria, Marco; Levin, Andrew; Lynch, Sharonann; Goemaere, Eric; Ford, Nathan; Médecins Sans Frontières, Geneva, Switzerland. (2012-09-18)
      Global commitments aim to provide antiretroviral therapy (ART) to 15 million people living with HIV by 2015, and recent studies have demonstrated the potential for widespread ART to prevent HIV transmission. Increasingly, countries are adapting their national guidelines to start ART earlier, for both clinical and preventive benefits. To maximize the benefits of ART in resource-limited settings, six key principles need to guide ART choice: simplicity, tolerability and safety, durability, universal applicability, affordability and heat stability. Currently available drugs, combined with those in late-stage clinical development, hold great promise to simplify treatment in the short term. Over the longer-term, newer technologies, such as long-acting formulations and nanotechnology, could radically alter the treatment paradigm. This commentary reviews recommendations made in an expert consultation on treatment scale up in resource-limited settings.
    • Prevalence, risk factors, and impact on outcome of cytomegalovirus replication in serum of Cambodian HIV-infected patients (2004-2007)

      Micol, Romain; Buchy, Philippe; Guerrier, Gilles; Duong, Veasna; Ferradini, Laurent; Dousset, Jean-Philippe; Guerin, Philippe J; Balkan, Suna; Galimand, Julie; Chanroeun, Hak; Lortholary, Olivier; Rouzioux, Christine; Fontanet, Arnaud; Leruez-Ville, Marianne; Unité d'Epidémiologie des Maladies Emergentes, Institut Pasteur, Paris, France; Laboratoire de Virologie, Universite Rene Descartes, Hopital Necker-Enfants Malades, Paris, France; Unite de virologie, Institut Pasteur du Cambodge, Phnom Penh, Cambodia; Medecins Sans Frontieres, Hopital Prea Bath Norodom Sihanouk, Phnom Penh, Cambodia; Medecins Du Monde, Hopital Kosamak, Phnom Penh, Cambodia; Epicentre, Paris, France; Medecins Sans Frontieres, Paris, France; Service des Maladies Infectieuses et Tropicales, Hopital Calmette, Phnom Penh, Cambodia; Universite Rene Descartes, Service des Maladies Infectieuses et Tropicales, Centre d’Infectiologie Necker–Pasteur, Hopital Necker–Enfants Malades, Paris, France (2009-08-01)
      BACKGROUND: In developing countries, the study of cytomegalovirus (CMV) coinfection in HIV-infected patients remains neglected. Quantitative CMV polymerase chain reaction (PCR) is the gold standard diagnostic tool for analyzing serum CMV replication and for predicting CMV disease. We estimated the prevalence of replicating CMV in sera of newly diagnosed HIV-infected Cambodian patients and examined its impact on mortality. METHODS: This cohort study was based on 2 highly active antiretroviral therapy treatment programs in Cambodia between 2004 and 2007. Quantitative CMV PCR was performed on baseline serum samples of 377 HIV-infected patients. RESULTS: The prevalence of serum CMV DNA was 55.2% (150 of 272) in patients with CD4 count <100/mm. In multivariate analysis, hemoglobin <9 g/dL, CD4 count <100/mm, and Karnofsky index <50 were independently associated with positive serum CMV DNA at baseline. During a 3-year follow-up period, CMV viral load >or=3.1 log10 copies per milliliter was significantly associated with death independently of CD4 count, other opportunistic infections, and highly active antiretroviral therapy. CONCLUSIONS: As in industrialized countries, serum CMV replication is highly prevalent among HIV-infected Cambodian patients and is associated with increased mortality. This underscores the importance of diagnostic CMV infection by PCR in sera of HIV-infected patients with CD4 count <100/mm and treating this opportunistic infection to reduce its associated mortality.
    • Preventing HIV-1: lessons from Mwanza and Rakai.

      Matthys, F; Boelaert, M (Elsevier, 1999-05-01)
    • The prevention of mother-to-child HIV transmission programme and infant feeding practices.

      Hilderbrand, K; Goemaere, E; Coetzee, D; Infectious Diseases and HIV/AIDS Epidemiology Unit, School of Public Health and Family Medicine, University of Cape Town. (2003-10)
      Since the first cases of HIV transmission through breast-feeding were documented, a fierce debate has raged on appropriate guidelines for infant feeding in resource-poor settings. A major problem is determining when it is safe and feasible to formula-feed, as breast-milk protects against other diseases. A cross-sectional survey of 113 women attending the programme for the prevention of mother-to-child transmission in Khayelitsha, Cape Town, was conducted. Over 95% of women on the programme formula-fed their infants and did not breast-feed at all. Seventy per cent of women said that their infant had never had diarrhoea, and only 3% of children had had two episodes of diarrhoea. Focus groups identified the main reasons for not breast-feeding given by women to their families and those around them. Formula feeding is safe and feasible in an urban environment where sufficient potable water is available.
    • Prevention of mother-to-child transmission of HIV and the health-related Millennium Development Goals: time for a public health approach.

      Schouten, Erik J; Jahn, Andreas; Midiani, Dalitso; Makombe, Simon D; Mnthambala, Austin; Chirwa, Zengani; Harries, Anthony D; van Oosterhout, Joep J; Meguid, Tarek; Ben-Smith, Anne; Zachariah, Rony; Lynen, Lutgarde; Zolfo, Maria; Van Damme, Wim; Gilks, Charles F; Atun, Rifat; Shawa, Mary; Chimbwandira, Frank; Department of HIV and AIDS, Ministry of Health, Lilongwe, Malawi. eschouten@msh.org (2011-07-16)
    • Prioritising prevention strategies for patients in antiretroviral treatment programmes in resource-limited settings

      Spaar, A; Graber, C; Dabis, F; Coutsoudis, A; Bachmann, L; McIntyre, J; Schechter, M; Prozesky, H W; Tuboi, S; Dickinson, D; Kumarasamy, N; Pujdades-Rodriquez, M; Sprinz, E; Schilthuis, H J; Cahn, P; Low, N; Egger, M; Institute of Social and Preventive Medicine (ISPM), University of Bern, Bern, Switzerland; Horten Centre for Patient-oriented Research and Knowledge Transfer, University Hospital of Zurich, Zurich, Switzerland; Institut de Santé Publique, d'Épidémiologie et de Développement (ISPED), Université Victor Segalen, Bordeaux, France; Department of Paediatrics and Child Health, University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban, South Africa; Perinatal HIV Research Unit (PHRU), Soweto, South Africa; Rio HIV Cohort, Universidade Federal do Rio de Janeiro, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil; Tygerberg Academic Hospital, Cape Town, South Africa; Independent Surgery, Gaborone, Botswana; Y R Gaitonde Centre for AIDS Research and Education (YRG Care), Chennai, India; Epicentre, Paris, France; South Brazil HIV Cohort (SOBRHIV), Hospital de Clinicas, Porto Alegre, Brazil; Heineken Medical Services, Amsterdam, The Netherlands; Fundación Huesped, Buenos Aires, Argentina (2010-05-13)
      Expanded access to antiretroviral therapy (ART) offers opportunities to strengthen HIV prevention in resource-limited settings. We invited 27 ART programmes from urban settings in Africa, Asia and South America to participate in a survey, with the aim to examine what preventive services had been integrated in ART programmes. Twenty-two programmes participated; eight (36%) from South Africa, two from Brazil, two from Zambia and one each from Argentina, India, Thailand, Botswana, Ivory Coast, Malawi, Morocco, Uganda and Zimbabwe and one occupational programme of a brewery company included five countries (Nigeria, Republic of Congo, Democratic Republic of Congo, Rwanda and Burundi). Twenty-one sites (96%) provided health education and social support, and 18 (82%) provided HIV testing and counselling. All sites encouraged disclosure of HIV infection to spouses and partners, but only 11 (50%) had a protocol for partner notification. Twenty-one sites (96%) supplied male condoms, seven (32%) female condoms and 20 (91%) provided prophylactic ART for the prevention of mother-to child transmission. Seven sites (33%) regularly screened for sexually transmitted infections (STI). Twelve sites (55%) were involved in activities aimed at women or adolescents, and 10 sites (46%) in activities aimed at serodiscordant couples. Stigma and discrimination, gender roles and funding constraints were perceived as the main obstacles to effective prevention in ART programmes. We conclude that preventive services in ART programmes in lower income countries focus on health education and the provision of social support and male condoms. Strategies that might be equally or more important in this setting, including partner notification, prompt diagnosis and treatment of STI and reduction of stigma in the community, have not been implemented widely.
    • 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.
    • Progress towards the UNAIDS 90-90-90 goals by age and gender in a rural area of KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa: a household-based community cross-sectional survey

      Huerga, H; Van Cutsem, G; Ben Farhat, J; Puren, A; Bouhenia, M; Wiesner, L; Dlamini, L; Maman, D; Ellman, T; Etard, JF (BioMed Central, 2018-03-02)
      The Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) has developed an ambitious strategy to end the AIDS epidemic. After eight years of antiretroviral therapy (ART) program we assessed progress towards the UNAIDS 90-90-90 targets in Mbongolwane and Eshowe, KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa.
    • Promoting adherence to antiretroviral therapy: the experience from a primary care setting in Khayelitsha, South Africa.

      Coetzee, D; Boulle, A; Hildebrand, K; Asselman, V; Van Cutsem, G; Goemaere, E; Infectious Disease Epidemiology Unit, School of Public Health and Family Medicine, University of Cape Town, Cape Town, South Africa. dcoetzee@phfm.uct.ac.za (2004-06)
      OBJECTIVE: To describe the approach used to promote adherence to antiretroviral therapy (ART) and to present the outcomes in the first primary care public sector ART project in South Africa. DESIGN: The study is a prospective open cohort, including all adult patients naive to previous ART who received antiretroviral treatment in Khayelitsha, from May 2001 to the end of 2002. Patients were followed until their most recent visit before 31 July 2003. METHODS: Plasma viral load was determined at 3, 6, 12, 18 and 24 months after ART was initiated, and CD4 cell counts 6-monthly. Kaplan-Meier estimates were determined for the cumulative proportions of patients surviving, and patients with viral load suppression and viral rebound. RESULTS: A total of 287 patients were initiated on triple therapy. The probability of survival was 86.3% at 24 months. The median CD4 cell count gain was 288 cells/microliters at 24 months. Viral load was less than 400 copies/ml in 89.2, 84.2 and 69.7% of patients at 6, 12 and 24 months, respectively. The cumulative probability of viral rebound (two consecutive HIV-RNA measurements above 400 copies/ml) after achieving an HIV-RNA measurement below 400 copies/ml was 13.2% at 18 months. CONCLUSION: The study shows that, with a standard approach to patient preparation and strategies to enhance adherence, a cohort of patients on ART can be retained in a resource-limited setting in a developing country. A high proportion of patients achieved suppression of viral replication. The subsequent probability of viral rebound was low.
    • Promoting long term adherence to Antiretroviral Treatment

      Mills, Edward J; Lester, Richard; Ford, Nathan (2012-06-28)
    • Prospective Evaluation of the Diagnostic Accuracy of Dried Blood Spots from Finger-Prick for the Determination of HIV-1 Viral Load with the NucliSENS Easy-Q HIV-1 v2.0 in Malawi

      Fajardo, Emmanuel; Metcalf, Carol A; Chaillet, Pascale; Aleixo, Lucia; Pannus, Pieter; Panunzi, Isabella; Triviño, Laura; Ellman, Tom; Likaka, Andrew; Mwenda, Reuben (American Society for Microbiology, 2014-02-05)
      HIV-1 viral load (VL) testing is not widely available in resource-limited settings. Use of finger-prick dried blood spot (FP-DBS) samples could remove barriers related to sample collection and transport. Measurement of VL using DBS from EDTA venous blood (VB-DBS) in place of plasma has previously been validated using the NucliSENS EasyQ HIV-1 v2.0 assay, but information on the accuracy of FP-DBS samples for measuring VL is limited. This prospective study, conducted at Thyolo District Hospital in Southern Malawi, compared VL levels measured on FP-DBS samples and plasma, using the NucliSENS EasyQ HIV-1 v2.0 assay. Comparability was assessed by means of agreement and correlation (131 patients with VLs ≥100 copies/ml), and sensitivity and specificity (612 patients on ART). Samples of EDTA venous blood and FP-DBS from 1,009 HIV-infected individuals were collected and prepared in the laboratory. Bland-Altman analysis found good agreement between plasma and FP-DBS VL levels, with a mean difference of -0.35 log10, and 95% limits of agreement from -1.26 to 0.55 log10. FP-DBS had a sensitivity of 88.7% (95% confidence interval [CI]: 81.1 - 94.4%) and specificity of 97.8% (95% CI: 96.1 - 98.9%) using a 1,000 copies/ml cut-point; and a sensitivity of 83.0% (95% CI: 73.4 - 90.1%) and specificity of 100% (95% CI: 99.3-100%) using a 5,000 copies/ml cut-point. This study shows that FP-DBS is an acceptable alternative to plasma for measuring VL using the NucliSENS EasyQ HIV-1 v2.0. We are conducting a second study to assess the proficiency of health workers at preparing FP-DBS in primary healthcare clinics.
    • Providing antiretroviral care in conflict settings.

      Mills, Edward J; Ford, Nathan; Singh, Sonal; Eyawo, Oghenowede; BC Centre for Excellence in HIV/AIDS, Vancouver, BC, Canada. emills@cfenet.ubc.ca (2009-11)
      There has been an historic expectation that delivering combination antiretroviral therapy (cART) to populations affected by violent conflict is untenable due to population movement and separation of drug supplies. There is now emerging evidence that cART provision can be successful in these populations. Using examples from Médecins Sans Frontières experience in a variety of African settings and also local nongovernmental organizations' experiences in northern Uganda, we examine novel approaches that have ensured retention in programs and adequate adherence. Emerging guidelines from United Nations bodies now support the expansion of cART in settings of conflict.
    • Providing HIV care for co-infected tuberculosis patients: a perspective from sub-Saharan Africa.

      Harries, A D; Zachariah, R; Lawn, S D; International Union Against Tuberculosis and Lung Disease, Paris, France; Department of Infectious and Tropical Diseases, London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, London, UK. (2009-01)
      Human immunodeficiency virus/acquired immune-deficiency syndrome (HIV/AIDS) and tuberculosis (TB) are overlapping epidemics that cause an immense burden of disease in sub-Saharan Africa. This region is home to the majority of the world's co-infected patents, who have higher TB case fatality and recurrence rates than patients with TB alone. A World Health Organization interim policy has been developed to reduce the joint burden of TB-HIV disease, an important component of which is provision of HIV care to co-infected patients. This review focuses on HIV testing of TB patients and, for those who are HIV-positive, the administration of adjunctive cotrimoxazole preventive treatment (CPT) and antiretroviral treatment (ART). HIV testing has moved from a voluntary, client-initiated intervention to one that is provider-initiated and a routine part of the diagnostic work-up. The efficacy and safety of CPT in HIV-infected patients is now well established, and this is an essential part of the package of HIV care. ART scale-up in Africa can substantially improve outcomes in co-infected patients. However, the clinical and programmatic challenges of combining ART with anti-tuberculosis treatment need to be resolved to realise the full potential of this benefit. These include the optimal time to start ART, how best to combine rifampicin-containing regimens with first-line and second-line ART regimens, management of immune reconstitution disease, the role of isoniazid preventive treatment with ART after TB treatment completion, and where and how to provide combined treatment to best suit the patient. Clinical and operational studies in the next few years should help to resolve some of these issues.
    • Providing HIV care in the aftermath of Kenya's post-election violence Medecins Sans Frontieres' lessons learned January - March 2008.

      Reid, T; van Engelgem, I; Telfer, B; Manzi, M; MSF Brussels, rue Dupre 94, Brussels 1090, Belgium. tony.reid@brussels.msf.org. (2008-12)
      ABSTRACT: Kenya's post-election violence in early 2008 created considerable problems for health services, and in particular, those providing HIV care. It was feared that the disruptions in services would lead to widespread treatment interruption. MSF had been working in the Kibera slum for 10 years and was providing antiretroviral therapy to 1800 patients when the violence broke out. MSF responded to the crisis in a number of ways and managed to keep HIV services going. Treatment interruption was less than expected, and MSF profited from a number of "lessons learned" that could be applied to similar contexts where a stable situation suddenly deteriorates.
    • Providing universal access to antiretroviral therapy in Thyolo, Malawi through task shifting and decentralization of HIV/AIDS care.

      Bemelmans, Marielle; Van Den Akker, Thomas; Ford, Nathan; Philips, Mit; Zachariah, Rony; Harries, Anthony; Schouten, Erik; Hermann, Katharina; Mwagomba, Beatrice; Massaquoi, Moses; Médecins Sans Frontières, Blantyre, Malawi  Médecins Sans Frontières, Cape Town, South Africa  Centre for Infectious Disease Epidemiology and Research, University of Cape Town, South Africa  Médecins Sans Frontières, Brussels, Belgium  International Union Against TB and Lung Diseases, Paris, France  Ministry of Health, Lilongwe, Malawi and Management Sciences for Health, Lilongwe, Malawi  Institute for Tropical Medicine, Antwerp, Belgium  District Health Office, Thyolo, Malawi. (2010-12)
      Objective  To describe how district-wide access to HIV/AIDS care was achieved and maintained in Thyolo District, Malawi. Method  In mid-2003, the Ministry of Health and Médecins Sans Frontières developed a model of care for Thyolo district (population 587 455) based on decentralization of care to health centres and community sites and task shifting. Results  After delegating HIV testing and counseling to lay counsellors, uptake of testing increased from 1300 tests per month in 2003 to 6500 in 2009. Shifting responsibility for antiretroviral therapy (ART) initiations to non-physician clinicians almost doubled ART enrolment, with a majority of initiations performed in peripheral health centres. By the end 2009, 23 261 people had initiated ART of whom 11 042 received ART care at health-centre level. By the end of 2007, the universal access targets were achieved, with nearly 9000 patients alive and on ART. The average annual cost for achieving these targets was €2.6 per inhabitant/year. Conclusion  The Thyolo programme has demonstrated the feasibility of district-wide access to ART in a setting with limited resources for health. Expansion and decentralization of HIV/AIDS service-capacity to the primary care level, combined with task shifting, resulted in increased access to HIV services with good programme outcomes despite staff shortages.
    • Provision of antiretroviral therapy in South Africa: the nuts and bolts

      Bekker, Linda-Gail; Venter, Francois; Cohen, Karen; Goemare, Eric; Van Cutsem, Gilles; Boulle, Andrew; Wood, Robin (International Medical Press, 2014-10-13)
      Public sector antiretroviral provision had a slow start in South Africa despite a raging epidemic and a World AIDS conference that shed significant public light on the disparities of therapy access globally. This was largely due to political prevarication in the midst of AIDS denialism. There has been an unprecedented expansion in the HIV treatment programme since 2008. As a result, South Africa now has the largest number of patients on antiretroviral drugs in the world, and South African life expectancy has increased by more than a decade. However, this has led to a number of fiscal, logistic and operational challenges that the country must face as the treatment programme continues to expand. Challenges include increasing detection within communities, linkage and retention in care, while strengthening operational support functions such as consistent drug supply, health staffing and infrastructure, diagnostic services, programme monitoring and sustainable financing. As a middle-income country, albeit with marked income inequality, and the heaviest HIV burden in the world, South Africa is a test case of whether a large-scale public health programme can boast of success in the face of numerous other health-system challenges.
    • Provision of antiretroviral treatment in conflict settings: the experience of Médecins Sans Frontières

      O'Brien, Daniel P; Venis, Sarah; Greig, Jane; Shanks, Leslie; Ellman, Tom; Sabapathy, Kalpana; Frigati, Lisa; Mills, Clair; Public Health Department, Médecins Sans Frontières, Amsterdam, Netherlands; 2Department of Infectious Diseases, Geelong Hospital, Geelong, Australia; Victorian Infectious Diseases Service, Royal Melbourne Hospital, Melbourne, Australia; Médecins Sans Frontières, London, UK; School of Child and Adolescent Health, Red Cross Childrens' Hospital, Capetown, South Africa; Te Kupenga Hauora Maori, Faculty of Medical and Health Sciences,University of Auckland, Auckland, New Zealand (2010-06-17)
      ABSTRACT: INTRODUCTION: Many countries ravaged by conflict have substantial morbidity and mortality attributed to HIV/AIDS yet HIV treatment is uncommonly available. Universal access to HIV care cannot be achieved unless the needs of populations in conflict-affected areas are addressed. METHODS: From 2003 Médecins Sans Frontières introduced HIV care, including antiretroviral therapy, into 24 programmes in conflict or post-conflict settings, mainly in sub-Saharan Africa. HIV care and treatment activities were usually integrated within other medical activities. Project data collected in the Fuchia software system were analysed and outcomes compared with ART-LINC data. Programme reports and other relevant documents and interviews with local and headquarters staff were used to develop lessons learned. RESULTS: In the 22 programmes where ART was initiated, more than 10,500 people were diagnosed with HIV and received medical care, and 4555 commenced antiretroviral therapy, including 348 children. Complete data were available for adults in 20 programmes (n = 4145). At analysis, 2645 (64%) remained on ART, 422 (10%) had died, 466 (11%) lost to follow-up, 417 (10%) transferred to another programme, and 195 (5%) had an unclear outcome. Median 12-month mortality and loss to follow-up were 9% and 11% respectively, and median 6-month CD4 gain was 129 cells/mm 3.Patient outcomes on treatment were comparable to those in stable resource-limited settings, and individuals and communities obtained significant benefits from access to HIV treatment. Programme disruption through instability was uncommon with only one program experiencing interruption to services, and programs were adapted to allow for disruption and population movements. Integration of HIV activities strengthened other health activities contributing to health benefits for all victims of conflict and increasing the potential sustainability for implemented activities. CONCLUSIONS: With commitment, simplified treatment and monitoring, and adaptations for potential instability, HIV treatment can be feasibly and effectively provided in conflict or post-conflict settings.
    • Public health. Getting HIV treatment to the most people.

      Lynch, Sharonann; Ford, Nathan; van Cutsem, Gilles; Bygrave, Helen; Janssens, Bart; Decroo, Tom; Andrieux-Meyer, Isabelle; Roberts, Teri; Balkan, Suna; Casas, Esther; Ferreyra, Cecilia; Bemelmans, Marielle; Cohn, Jen; Kahn, Patricia; Goemaere, Eric; Médecins Sans Frontières Access Campaign, New York, NY 10001, USA. (2012-07-20)
    • Public-health and individual approaches to antiretroviral therapy: township South Africa and Switzerland compared.

      Keiser, O; Orrell, C; Egger, M; Wood, R; Brinkhof, M W G; Furrer, H; Van Cutsem, G; Ledergerber, B; Boulle, A; Institute of Social and Preventive Medicine (ISPM), University of Bern, Bern, Switzerland. (PLoS, 2008-07-08)
      BACKGROUND: The provision of highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART) in resource-limited settings follows a public health approach, which is characterised by a limited number of regimens and the standardisation of clinical and laboratory monitoring. In industrialized countries doctors prescribe from the full range of available antiretroviral drugs, supported by resistance testing and frequent laboratory monitoring. We compared virologic response, changes to first-line regimens, and mortality in HIV-infected patients starting HAART in South Africa and Switzerland. METHODS AND FINDINGS: We analysed data from the Swiss HIV Cohort Study and two HAART programmes in townships of Cape Town, South Africa. We included treatment-naïve patients aged 16 y or older who had started treatment with at least three drugs since 2001, and excluded intravenous drug users. Data from a total of 2,348 patients from South Africa and 1,016 patients from the Swiss HIV Cohort Study were analysed. Median baseline CD4+ T cell counts were 80 cells/mul in South Africa and 204 cells/mul in Switzerland. In South Africa, patients started with one of four first-line regimens, which was subsequently changed in 514 patients (22%). In Switzerland, 36 first-line regimens were used initially, and these were changed in 539 patients (53%). In most patients HIV-1 RNA was suppressed to 500 copies/ml or less within one year: 96% (95% confidence interval [CI] 95%-97%) in South Africa and 96% (94%-97%) in Switzerland, and 26% (22%-29%) and 27% (24%-31%), respectively, developed viral rebound within two years. Mortality was higher in South Africa than in Switzerland during the first months of HAART: adjusted hazard ratios were 5.90 (95% CI 1.81-19.2) during months 1-3 and 1.77 (0.90-3.50) during months 4-24. CONCLUSIONS: Compared to the highly individualised approach in Switzerland, programmatic HAART in South Africa resulted in similar virologic outcomes, with relatively few changes to initial regimens. Further innovation and resources are required in South Africa to both achieve more timely access to HAART and improve the prognosis of patients who start HAART with advanced disease.