• Sexually transmitted infections among prison inmates in a rural district of Malawi.

      Zachariah, R; Harries, A D; Chantulo, A; Yadidi, A E; Nkhoma, W; Maganga, O; Mission (Malawi), Medecins sans Frontieres-Luxembourg, 70 rue de Gasperich, L-1617, Luxembourg. zachariah@internet.lu (Elsevier, 2008-02-14)
      As part of a comprehensive human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) prevention strategy targeting high-risk groups, sexually transmitted infection (STI) clinics are offered to all prisoners in Thyolo district, southern Malawi. Prison inmates are not, however, allowed access to condoms as it is felt that such an intervention might encourage homosexuality which is illegal in Malawi. A study was conducted between January 2000 and December 2001 in order to determine the prevalence, incidence, and patterns of STIs among male inmates of 2 prisons in this rural district. A total of 4229 inmates were entered into the study during a 2-year period. Of these, 178 (4.2%) were diagnosed with an STI. This included 83 (46%) inmates with urethral discharge, 60 (34%) with genital ulcer disease (GUD), and 35 (20%) inmates with epididymo-orchitis. Fifty (28%) STIs were considered incident cases acquired within the prisons (incidence risk 12 cases/1000 inmates/year). GUD was the most common STI in this group comprising 52% of all STI. This study shows that a considerable proportion of STIs among inmates are acquired within prison. In a setting of same-sex inmates, this suggests inter-prisoner same-sex sexual activity. The findings have implications for HIV transmission and might help in developing more rational policies on STI control and condom access within Malawi prisons.
    • Short and long term retention in antiretroviral care in health facilities in rural Malawi and Zimbabwe.

      Rasschaert, Freya; Koole, Olivier; Zachariah, Rony; Lynen, Lut; Manzi, Marcel; Van Damme, Wim; Institute of Tropical Medicine, Nationale straat 155, Antwerpen 2000, Belgium. frasschaert@itg.be (2012-12)
      Despite the successful scale-up of ART services over the past years, long term retention in ART care remains a major challenge, especially in high HIV prevalence and resource-limited settings. This study analysed the short (<12 months) and long (>12 months) term retention on ART in two ART programmes in Malawi (Thyolo district) and Zimbabwe (Buhera district).
    • Should Urine-LAM Tests Be Used in TB Symptomatic HIV-Positive Patients When No CD4 Count Is Available? A Prospective Observational Cohort Study From Malawi

      Huerga, H; Rucker, SCM; Bastard, M; Dimba, A; Kamba, C; Amoros, I; Szumilin, E (Lippincott, Williams & Wilkins, 2020-01-01)
      Background: Current eligibility criteria for urine lateral-flow lipoarabinomannan assay (LF-LAM) in ambulatory, HIV-positive patients rely on the CD4 count. We investigated the diagnostic yield of LF-LAM and the 6-month mortality in ambulatory, TB symptomatic, HIV-positive patients regardless of their CD4 count. Methods: We conducted a prospective, observational study that included all ambulatory, ≥15-year-old, TB symptomatic (cough, weight loss, fever, or night sweats) HIV-positive patients presenting at 4 health facilities in Malawi. Patients received a clinical examination and were requested urine LF-LAM, sputum microscopy, and Xpert MTB/RIF. TB was defined as bacteriologically confirmed if Xpert was positive. Results: Of 485 patients included, 171 (35.3%) had a CD4 <200 and 32 (7.2%) were seriously ill. Median CD4 count was 341 cells/µL (interquartile range: 129–256). LAM was positive in 24.9% patients with CD4 < 200 (50% LAM grades 2–4) and 12.5% with CD4 ≥ 200 (12.8% LAM grades 2–4). Xpert was positive in 14.1% (44/312). Among Xpert-positive patients, LAM positivity was 56.7% (CD4 < 200) and 42.9% (CD4 ≥ 200), P = 0.393. Of the patients without an Xpert result, 13.4% (23/172) were LAM positive (ie, potentially missed patients). Overall, mortality was 9.2% (44/478). More pronounced LAM-positive patients had higher mortality than LAM-negative (grades 2–4: 36.0%; grade 1: 9.1%; negative: 7.4%; P < 0.001). LAM-positive patients with CD4 <200 cells/µL had higher risk of mortality than LAM negatives (adjusted hazard ratio: 3.2, 95% confidence interval: 1.4 to 7.2, P = 0.006), particularly those with LAM grades 2–4 (adjusted hazard ratio: 4.9, 95% confidence interval: 1.8 to 13.3, P = 0.002). Conclusions: Urine-LAM testing can be useful for TB diagnosis in HIV-positive TB-symptomatic patients with no CD4 cell count. LAM grade can identify patients at higher risk of death in this situation.
    • Similar mortality and reduced loss to follow-up in integrated compared with vertical programs providing antiretroviral treatment in sub-saharan Africa.

      Greig, Jane; O'Brien, Daniel P; Ford, Nathan; Spelman, Tim; Sabapathy, Kalpana; Shanks, Leslie; Manson Unit, Médecins sans Frontières, Saffron Hill, London, UK. jane.greig@london.msf.org (2012-04-15)
      Vertical HIV programs have achieved good results but may not be feasible or appropriate in many resource-limited settings. Médecins sans Frontières has treated HIV in vertical programs since 2000 and over time integrated HIV treatment into general health care services using simplified protocols. We analyzed the survival probability among patients receiving antiretroviral therapy (ART) from 2003 to 2010 in integrated versus vertical programs in 9 countries in sub-Saharan Africa.
    • Simplifying and adapting antiretroviral treatment in resource-poor settings: a necessary step to scaling-up.

      Calmy, A; Klement, E; Teck, R; Berman, D; Pécoul, B; Ferradini, L (Wolters Kluwer, 2004-12-03)
    • Simplifying switch to second line ART: Predicted effect of defining failure of first-line efavirenz-based regimens in sub-Saharan Africa by a single viral load > 1000 copies/ml.

      Shroufi, A; Van Custem, G; Cambiano, V; Bansi-Matharu, L; Duncan, K; Murphy, RA; Maman, D; Phillips, A (Wolters Kluwer Health, 2019-04-16)
      BACKGROUND: Many individuals failing first-line antiretroviral therapy (ART) in sub-Saharan Africa never initiate second-line antiretroviral treatment (ART) or do so after significant delay. For people on ART with a viral load (VL) > 1000 copies/ml, the World Health Organization (WHO) recommends a second VL measurement 3 months after the first VL and enhanced adherence support. Switch to a second-line regimen is contingent upon a persistently elevated VL > 1000 copies/ml. Delayed second-line switch places patients at increased risk for opportunistic infections and mortality. METHODS: To assess the potential benefits of a simplified second-line ART switch strategy, we use an individual-based model of HIV transmission, progression and the effect of ART which incorporates consideration of adherence and drug resistance to compare predicted outcomes of 2 policies, defining 1st-line regimen failure for patients on efavirenz based ART as either (i) two consecutive VL values > 1000 copies/ml, with the second after an enhanced adherence intervention (implemented as per current WHO guidelines) or (ii) a single VL value > 1000 copies/ml. We simulated a range of setting-scenarios reflecting the breadth of the sub-Saharan African HIV epidemic, taking into account potential delays in defining failure and switch to second line ART. FINDINGS: The use of a single VL > 1000 copies/ml to define ART failure would lead to a higher proportion of persons with NNRTI resistance switched to second-line ART (65% vs 48%; difference 17% [90% range 14% - 20%]), resulting in a median 18% reduction in the rate of AIDS-related death over setting scenarios (90% range 6% - 30%; from a median of 3·1 to 2·5 per 100 person years) over 3 years. The simplified strategy also is predicted to reduce the rate of AIDS conditions by a median of 31% (90% Range 8% - 49%) among people on 1st line ART with a viral load > 1000 copies/ml in the past 6 months. For a country of 10 million adults (and a median of 880,000 people with HIV), we estimate that this approach would lead to a median of 1,322 (90% range 67 to 3,513) AIDS deaths averted per year over three years. For South Africa this would represent around 10,215 deaths averted annually. INTERPRETATION: As a step towards reducing unnecessary mortality associated with delayed second line ART switch, defining failure of first-line efavirenz-based regimens as a single VL>1000 copies/ml should be considered. FUNDING: No specific funding was obtained for the analysis or writing of this manuscript.
    • Simplifying switch to second-line antiretroviral therapy in sub Saharan Africa: predicted effect of using a single viral load to define efavirenz-based first-line failure.

      Shroufi, A; Van Cutsem, G; Cambiano, V; Bansi-Matharu, L; Duncan, K; Murphy, RA; Maman, D; Phillips, A (Wolters Kluwer Health/Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, 2019-08-01)
      BACKGROUND: Many individuals failing first-line antiretroviral therapy (ART) in sub-Saharan Africa never initiate second-line ART or do so after significant delay. For people on ART with a viral load more than 1000 copies/ml, the WHO recommends a second viral load measurement 3 months after the first viral load and enhanced adherence support. Switch to a second-line regimen is contingent upon a persistently elevated viral load more than 1000 copies/ml. Delayed second-line switch places patients at increased risk for opportunistic infections and mortality. METHODS: To assess the potential benefits of a simplified second-line ART switch strategy, we use an individual-based model of HIV transmission, progression and the effect of ART which incorporates consideration of adherence and drug resistance, to compare predicted outcomes of two policies, defining first-line regimen failure for patients on efavirenz-based ART as either two consecutive viral load values more than 1000 copies/ml, with the second after an enhanced adherence intervention (implemented as per current WHO guidelines) or a single viral load value more than 1000 copies/ml. We simulated a range of setting-scenarios reflecting the breadth of the sub-Saharan African HIV epidemic, taking into account potential delays in defining failure and switch to second-line ART. FINDINGS: The use of a single viral load more than 1000 copies/ml to define ART failure would lead to a higher proportion of persons with nonnucleoside reverse-transcriptase inhibitor resistance switched to second-line ART [65 vs. 48%; difference 17% (90% range 14-20%)], resulting in a median 18% reduction in the rate of AIDS-related death over setting scenarios (90% range 6-30%; from a median of 3.1 to 2.5 per 100 person-years) over 3 years. The simplified strategy also is predicted to reduce the rate of AIDS conditions by a median of 31% (90% range 8-49%) among people on first-line ART with a viral load more than 1000 copies/ml in the past 6 months. For a country of 10 million adults (and a median of 880 000 people with HIV), we estimate that this approach would lead to a median of 1322 (90% range 67-3513) AIDS deaths averted per year over 3 years. For South Africa this would represent around 10 215 deaths averted annually. INTERPRETATION: As a step towards reducing unnecessary mortality associated with delayed second-line ART switch, defining failure of first-line efavirenz-based regimens as a single viral load more than 1000 copies/ml should be considered.
    • Six-Month Mortality among HIV-Infected Adults Presenting for Antiretroviral Therapy with Unexplained Weight Loss, Chronic Fever or Chronic Diarrhea in Malawi.

      van Lettow, Monique; Akesson, Ann; Martiniuk, Alexandra L C; Ramsay, Andrew; Chan, Adrienne K; Anderson, Suzanne T; Harries, Anthony D; Corbett, Elizabeth; Heyderman, Robert S; Zachariah, Rony; et al. (2012-11)
      In sub-Saharan Africa, early mortality is high following initiation of antiretroviral therapy (ART). We investigated 6-month outcomes and factors associated with mortality in HIV-infected adults being assessed for ART initiation and presenting with weight loss, chronic fever or diarrhea, and with negative TB sputum microscopy.
    • Six-monthly appointment spacing for clinical visits as a model for retention in HIV Care in Conakry-Guinea: a cohort study

      Bekolo, CE; Diallo, A; Philips, M; Yuma, JD; Di Stefano, L; Drèze, S; Mouton, J; Koita, Y; Tiomtore, OW (BioMed Central, 2017-12-13)
      The outbreak of the Ebola virus disease (EVD) in 2014 led to massive dropouts in HIV care in Guinea. Meanwhile, Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) was implementing a six-monthly appointment spacing approach adapted locally as Rendez-vous de Six Mois (R6M) with an objective to improve retention in care. We sought to evaluate this innovative model of ART delivery in circumstances where access to healthcare is restricted.
    • Slipping through the cracks: a qualitative study to explore pathways of HIV care and treatment amongst hospitalised patients with advanced HIV in Kenya and the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

      Burns, R; Venables, E; Odhoch, L; Kocholla, L; Wanjala, S; Mucinya, G; Bossard, C; Wringe, A (Taylor and Francis, 2021-08-26)
      Advanced HIV causes substantial mortality in sub-Saharan Africa despite widespread antiretroviral therapy coverage. This paper explores pathways of care amongst hospitalised patients with advanced HIV in rural Kenya and urban Democratic Republic of the Congo, with a view to understanding their care-seeking trajectories and poor health outcomes. Thirty in-depth interviews were conducted with hospitalised patients with advanced HIV who had previously initiated first-line antiretroviral therapy, covering their experiences of living with HIV and care-seeking. Interviews were audio-recorded, transcribed and translated before being coded inductively and analysed thematically. In both settings, participants' health journeys were defined by recurrent, severe symptoms and complex pathways of care before hospitalisation. Patients were often hospitalised after multiple failed attempts to obtain adequate care at health centres. Most participants managed their ill-health with limited support networks, lived in fragile economic situations and often experienced stress and other mental health concerns. Treatment-taking was sometimes undermined by strict messaging around adherence that was delivered in health facilities. These findings reveal a group of patients who had "slipped through the cracks" of health systems and social support structures, indicating both missed opportunities for timely management of advanced HIV and the need for interventions beyond hospital and clinical settings.
    • Southern African HIV Clinicians Society guideline for the prevention, diagnosis and management of cryptococcal disease among HIV-infected persons: 2019 update

      Govender, NP; Meintjes, G; Mangena, P; Nel, J; Potgieter, S; Reddy, D; Rabie, H; Wilson, D; Black, J; Boulware, D; et al. (Health and Medical Publishing Group, 2019-11-08)
    • Southern African HIV Clinicians Society guidelines for antiretroviral therapy in adults: 2020 update

      Nel, J; Dlamini, S; Meintjes, G; Burton, R; Black, JM; Davies, NECG; Hefer, E; Maartens, G; Mangena, PM; Mathe, MT; et al. (International Union Against Tuberculosis and Lung Disease, 2020-09-16)
    • Stavudine- and nevirapine-related drug toxicity while on generic fixed-dose antiretroviral treatment: incidence, timing and risk factors in a three-year cohort in Kigali, Rwanda.

      van Griensven, J; Zachariah, R; Rasschaert, F; Mugabo, J; Atté, EF; Reid, T; Médecins Sans Frontières, Operational Centre Brussels, Medical Department, Duprestraat 94, 1090 Brussels, Belgium. (2009-09-02)
      This cohort study was conducted to report on the incidence, timing and risk factors for stavudine (d4T)- and nevirapine (NVP)-related severe drug toxicity (requiring substitution) with a generic fixed-dose combination under program conditions in Kigali, Rwanda. Probability of 'time to first toxicity-related drug substitution' was estimated using the Kaplan-Meier method and Cox-proportional hazards modeling was used to identify risk factors. Out of 2190 adults (median follow-up: 1.5 years), d4T was replaced in 175 patients (8.0%) for neuropathy, 69 (3.1%) for lactic acidosis and 157 (7.2%) for lipoatrophy, which was the most frequent toxicity by 3 years of antiretroviral treatment (ART). NVP was substituted in 4.9 and 1.3% of patients for skin rash and hepatotoxicity, respectively. Use of d4T 40mg was associated with increased risk of lipoatrophy and early (<6 months) neuropathy. Significant risk factors associated with lactic acidosis and late neuropathy included higher baseline body weight. Older age and advanced HIV disease increased the risk of neuropathy. Elevated baseline liver tests and older age were identified as risk factors for NVP-related hepatotoxicity. d4T is associated with significant long-term toxicity. d4T-dose reduction, increased access to safer ART in low-income countries and close monitoring for those at risk are all relevant strategies.
    • Stockouts of HIV commodities in public health facilities in Kinshasa: Barriers to end HIV

      Gils, T; Bossard, C; Verdonck, K; Owiti, P; Casteels, I; Mashako, M; Van Cutsem, G; Ellman, T (Public Library of Science, 2018-01-19)
      Stockouts of HIV commodities increase the risk of treatment interruption, antiretroviral resistance, treatment failure, morbidity and mortality. The study objective was to assess the magnitude and duration of stockouts of HIV medicines and diagnostic tests in public facilities in Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of the Congo. This was a cross-sectional survey involving visits to facilities and warehouses in April and May 2015. All zonal warehouses, all public facilities with more than 200 patients on antiretroviral treatment (ART) (high-burden facilities) and a purposive sample of facilities with 200 or fewer patients (low-burden facilities) in Kinshasa were selected. We focused on three adult ART formulations, cotrimoxazole tablets, and HIV diagnostic tests. Availability of items was determined by physical check, while stockout duration until the day of the survey visit was verified with stock cards. In case of ART stockouts, we asked the pharmacist in charge what the facility coping strategy was for patients needing those medicines. The study included 28 high-burden facilities and 64 low-burden facilities, together serving around 22000 ART patients. During the study period, a national shortage of the newly introduced first-line regimen Tenofovir-Lamivudine-Efavirenz resulted in stockouts of this regimen in 56% of high-burden and 43% of low-burden facilities, lasting a median of 36 (interquartile range 29-90) and 44 days (interquartile range 24-90) until the day of the survey visit, respectively. Each of the other investigated commodities were found out of stock in at least two low-burden and two high-burden facilities. In 30/41 (73%) of stockout cases, the commodity was absent at the facility but present at the upstream warehouse. In 30/57 (54%) of ART stockout cases, patients did not receive any medicines. In some cases, patients were switched to different ART formulations or regimens. Stockouts of HIV commodities were common in the visited facilities. Introduction of new ART regimens needs additional planning.
    • Strategies to improve patient retention on antiretroviral therapy in sub-Saharan Africa.

      Harries, Anthony D; Zachariah, Rony; Lawn, Stephen D; Rosen, Sydney; International Union against Tuberculosis and Lung Disease, Paris, France. adharries@theunion.org (2010-06)
      The scale-up of antiretroviral therapy (ART) has been one of the success stories of sub-Saharan Africa, where coverage has increased from about 2% in 2003 to more than 40% 5 years later. However, tempering this success is a growing concern about patient retention (the proportion of patients who are alive and remaining on ART in the health system). Based on the personal experience of the authors, 10 key interventions are presented and discussed that might help to improve patient retention. These are (1) the need for simple and standardized monitoring systems to track what is happening, (2) reliable ascertainment of true outcomes of patients lost to follow-up, (3) implementation of measures to reduce early mortality in patients both before and during ART, (4) ensuring uninterrupted drug supplies, (5) consideration of simple, non-toxic ART regimens, (6) decentralization of ART care to health centres and the community, (7) a reduction in indirect costs for patients particularly in relation to transport to and from clinics, (8) strengthening links within and between health services and the community, (9) the use of ART clinics to deliver other beneficial patient or family-orientated packages of care such as insecticide-treated bed nets, and (10) innovative (thinking 'out of the box') interventions. High levels of retention on ART are vital for individual patients, for credibility of programmes and for on-going resource and financial support.
    • Substitutions due to antiretroviral toxicity or contraindication in the first 3 years of antiretroviral therapy in a large South African cohort.

      Boulle, A; Orrell, C; Kaplan, R; Van Cutsem, G; McNally, M; Hilderbrand, K; Myer, L; Egger, M; Coetzee, D; Maartens, G; et al. (International Medical Press, 2007)
      INTRODUCTION: The patterns and reasons for antiretroviral therapy (ART) drug substitutions are poorly described in resource-limited settings. METHODS: Time to and reason for drug substitution were recorded in treatment-naive adults receiving ART in two primary care treatment programmes in Cape Town. The cumulative proportion of patients having therapy changed because of toxicity was described for each drug, and associations with these changes were explored in multivariate models. RESULTS: Analysis included 2,679 individuals followed for a median of 11 months. Median CD4+ T-cell count at baseline was 85 cells/microl. Mean weight was 59 kg, mean age was 32 years and 71% were women. All started non-nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitor-based ART (60% on efavrienz) and 75% started on stavudine (d4T). After 3 years, 75% remained in care on-site, of whom 72% remained on their initial regimen. Substitutions due to toxicity of nevirapine (8% by 3 years), efavirenz (2%) and zidovudine (8%) occurred early. Substitutions on d4T occurred in 21% of patients by 3 years, due to symptomatic hyperlactataemia (5%), lipodystrophy (9%) or peripheral neuropathy (6%), and continued to accumulate over time. Those at greatest risk of hyperlactataemia or lipodystrophy were women on ART > or =6 months, weighing > or =75 kg at baseline. DISCUSSION: A high proportion of adult patients are able to tolerate their initial ART regimen for up to 3 years. In most instances treatment-limiting toxicities occur early, but continue to accumulate over time in patients on d4T. Whilst awaiting other treatment options, the risks of known toxicities could be minimized through early identification of patients at the highest risk.
    • Success with antiretroviral treatment for children in Kigali, Rwanda: experience with health center/nurse-based care.

      van Griensven, J; De Naeyer, L; Uwera, J; Asiimwe, A; Gazille, C; Reid, T; Médecins Sans Frontières, Kigali, Rwanda. jvgrie@yahoo.com (BMC, 2008-10)
      BACKGROUND: Although a number of studies have shown good results in treating children with antiretroviral drugs (ARVs) in hospital settings, there is limited published information on results in pediatric programs that are nurse-centered and based in health centers, in particular on the psychosocial aspects of care. METHODS: Program treatment and outcome data were reported from two government-run health centers that were supported by Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) in Kigali, Rwanda between October 2003 and June 2007. Interviews were held with health center staff and MSF program records were reviewed to describe the organization of the program. Important aspects included adequate training and supervision of nurses to manage ARV treatment. The program also emphasized family-centered care addressing the psychosocial needs of both caregivers and children to encourage early diagnosis, good adherence and follow-up. RESULTS: A total of 315 children (< 15 years) were started on ARVs, at a median age of 7.2 years (range: 0.7-14.9). Sixty percent were in WHO clinical stage I/II, with a median CD4% of 14%. Eighty-nine percent (n = 281) started a stavudine-containing regimen, mainly using the adult fixed-dose combination. The median follow-up time after ARV initiation was 2 years (interquartile range 1.2-2.6). Eighty-four percent (n = 265) of children were still on treatment in the program. Thirty (9.5%) were transferred out, eight (2.6%) died and 12 (3.8%) were lost to follow-up. An important feature of the study was that viral loads were done at a median time period of 18 months after starting ARVs and were available for 87% of the children. Of the 174 samples, VL was < 400 copies/ml in 82.8% (n = 144). Two children were started on second-line ARVs. Treatment was changed due to toxicity for 26 children (8.3%), mainly related to nevirapine. CONCLUSION: This report suggests that providing ARVs to children in a health center/nurse-based program is both feasible and very effective. Adequate numbers and training of nursing staff and an emphasis on the psychosocial needs of caregivers and children have been key elements for the successful scaling-up of ARVs at this level of the health system.
    • Successes and challenges in optimizing the viral load cascade to improve antiretroviral therapy adherence and rationalize second-line switches in Swaziland

      Etoori, D; Ciglenecki, I; Ndlangamandla, M; Edwards, CG; Jobanputra, K; Pasipamire, M; Maphalala, G; Yang, C; Zabsonre, I; Kabore, SM; et al. (Wiley Open Access, 2018-10-22)
      As antiretroviral therapy (ART) is scaled up, more patients become eligible for routine viral load (VL) monitoring, the most important tool for monitoring ART efficacy. For HIV programmes to become effective, leakages along the VL cascade need to be minimized and treatment switching needs to be optimized. However, many HIV programmes in resource-constrained settings report significant shortfalls.
    • Successes and gaps in the HIV cascade of care of a high HIV prevalence setting in Zimbabwe: a population-based survey.

      Conan, N; Coulborn, RM; Simons, E; Mapfumo, A; Apollo, T; Garone, DB; Casas, EC; Puren, AJ; Chihana, ML; Maman, D (Wiley Open Access, 2020-09-24)
      Introduction: Gutu, a rural district in Zimbabwe, has been implementing comprehensive HIV care with the support of Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) since 2011, decentralizing testing and treatment services to all rural healthcare facilities. We evaluated HIV prevalence, incidence and the cascade of care, in Gutu District five years after MSF began its activities. Methods: A cross-sectional study was implemented between September and December 2016. Using multistage cluster sampling, individuals aged ≥15 years living in the selected households were eligible. Individuals who agreed to participate were interviewed and tested for HIV at home. All participants who tested HIV-positive had their HIV-RNA viral load (VL) measured, regardless of their antiretroviral therapy (ART) status, and those not on ART with HIV-RNA VL ≥ 1000 copies/mL had Limiting-Antigen-Avidity EIA Assay for cross-sectional estimation of population-level HIV incidence. Results: Among 5439 eligible adults ≥15 years old, 89.0% of adults were included in the study and accepted an HIV test. The overall prevalence was 13.6% (95%: Confidence Interval (CI): 12.6 to 14.5). Overall HIV-positive status awareness was 87.4% (95% CI: 84.7 to 89.8), linkage to care 85.5% (95% CI: 82.5 to 88.0) and participants in care 83.8% (95% CI: 80.7 to 86.4). ART coverage among HIV-positive participants was 83.0% (95% CI: 80.0 to 85.7). Overall, 71.6% (95% CI 68.0 to 75.0) of HIV-infected participants had a HIV-RNA VL < 1000 copies/mL. Women achieved higher outcomes than men in the five stages of the cascade of care. Viral Load Suppression (VLS) among participants on ART was 83.2% (95% CI: 79.7 to 86.2) and was not statistically different between women and men (p = 0.98). The overall HIV incidence was estimated at 0.35% (95% CI 0.00 to 0.70) equivalent to 35 new cases/10,000 person-years. Conclusions: Our study provides population-level evidence that achievement of HIV cascade of care coverage overall and among women is feasible in a context with broad access to services and implementation of a decentralized model of care. However, the VLS was relatively low even among participants on ART. Quality care remains the most critical gap in the cascade of care to further reduce mortality and HIV transmission.
    • Superior Virologic and Treatment Outcomes When Viral Load is Measured at 3 Months Compared to 6 Months on Antiretroviral Therapy

      Kerschberger, Bernhard; Boulle, Andrew M; Kranzer, Katharina; Hilderbrand, Katherine; Schomaker, Michael; Coetzee, David; Goemaere, Eric; Van Cutsem, Gilles (International AIDS Society, 2015-09-28)
      Routine viral load (VL) monitoring is utilized to assess antiretroviral therapy (ART) adherence and virologic failure, and it is currently scaled-up in many resource-constrained settings. The first routine VL is recommended as late as six months after ART initiation for early detection of sub-optimal adherence. We aimed to assess the optimal timing of first VL measurement after initiation of ART.