Task-Sharing of HIV Care and ART Initiation: Evaluation of a Mixed-Care Non-Physician Provider Model for ART Delivery in Rural Malawi
Ben Farhat, Jihane
Chinyumba, Yamikani Ntakwile
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AbstractBackground: Expanding access to antiretroviral therapy (ART) in sub-Saharan Africa requires implementation of alternative care delivery models to traditional physician-centered approaches. This longitudinal analysis compares outcomes of patients initiated on antiretroviral therapy (ART) by non-physician and physician providers. Methods: Adults (≥15 years) initiating ART between September 2007 and March 2010, and with >1 follow-up visit were included and classified according to the proportion of clinical visits performed by nurses or by clinical officers(≥80% of visits). Multivariable Poisson models were used to compare 2-year program attrition (mortality and lost to follow-up) and mortality by type of provider. In sensitivity analyses only patients with less severe disease were included. Results: A total of 10,112 patients contributed 14,012 person-years to the analysis: 3386 (33.5%) in the clinical officer group, 1901 (18.8%) in the nurse care group and 4825 (47.7%) in the mixed care group. Overall 2-year program retention was 81.8%. Attrition was lower in the mixed care and higher in the clinical officer group, compared to the nurse group (adjusted incidence rate ratio [aIRR]=0.54, 95%CI 0.45-0.65; and aIRR=3.03, 95%CI 2.56-3.59,respectively). While patients initiated on ART by clinical officers in the mixed care group had lower attrition(aIRR=0.36, 95%CI 0.29-0.44) than those in the overall nurse care group; no differences in attrition were found between patients initiated on ART by nurses in the mixed care group and those included in the nurse group (aIRR=1.18, 95%CI 0.95-1.47). Two-year mortality estimates were aIRR=0.72, 95%CI 0.49-1.09 and aIRR=5.04,95%CI 3.56-7.15, respectively. Slightly higher estimates were observed when analyses were restricted to patients with less severe disease. Conclusion: The findings of this study support the use of a mixed care model with well trained and regularly supervised nurses and medical assistants to provide HIV care in countries with high HIV prevalence.