Introduction: HIV-related stigma and discrimination continue to hamper efforts to prevent new infections and engage people in HIV treatment, care and support programmes. The identification of effective interventions to reduce stigma and discrimination that can be integrated into national responses is crucial to the success of the global AIDS response. Methods: We conducted a systematic review of studies and reports that assessed the effectiveness of interventions to reduce HIV stigma and discrimination between 1 January 2002 and 1 March 2013. Databases searched for peer-reviewed articles included PubMed, Scopus, EBSCO Host -CINAHL Plus, Psycinfo, Ovid, Sociofile and Popline. Reports were obtained from the www.HIVAIDSClearinghouse.eu, USAID Development Experience Clearinghouse, UNESCO HIV and AIDS Education Clearinghouse, Google, WHO and UNAIDS. Ancestry searches for articles included in the systematic review were also conducted. Studies of any design that sought to reduce stigma as a primary or secondary objective and included pre- and post-intervention measures of stigma were included. Results: Of 2368 peer-reviewed articles and reports identified, 48 were included in our review representing 14 different target populations in 28 countries. The majority of interventions utilized two or more strategies to reduce stigma and discrimination, and ten included structural or biomedical components. However, most interventions targeted a single socio-ecological level and a single domain of stigma. Outcome measures lacked uniformity and validity, making both interpretation and comparison of study results difficult. While the majority of studies were effective at reducing the aspects of stigma they measured, none assessed the influence of stigma or discrimination reduction on HIV-related health outcomes. Conclusions: Our review revealed considerable progress in the stigma-reduction field. However, critical challenges and gaps remain which are impeding the identification of effective stigma-reduction strategies that can be implemented by national governments on a larger scale. The development, validation, and consistent use of globally relevant scales of stigma and discrimination are a critical next step for advancing the field of research in this area. Studies comparing the effectiveness of different stigma-reduction strategies and studies assessing the influence of stigma reduction on key behavioural and biomedical outcomes are also needed to maximize biomedical prevention efforts.
Introduction: At the epicentre of the HIV epidemic in southern Africa, adolescent girls and young women aged 15-24 contribute a disproportionate similar to 30% of all new infections and seroconvert 5-7 years earlier than their male peers. This age-sex disparity in HIV acquisition continues to sustain unprecedentedly high incidence rates, and preventing HIV infection in this age group is a pre-requisite for achieving an AIDS-free generation and attaining epidemic control. Discussion: Adolescent girls and young women in southern Africa are uniquely vulnerable to HIV and have up to eight times more infection than their male peers. While the cause of this vulnerability has not been fully elucidated, it is compounded by structural, social and biological factors. These factors include but are not limited to: engagement in age-disparate and/or transactional relationships, few years of schooling, experience of food insecurity, experience of gender-based violence, increased genital inflammation, and amplification of effects of transmission co-factors. Despite the large and immediate HIV prevention need of adolescent girls and young women, there is a dearth of evidence-based interventions to reduce their risk. The exclusion of adolescents in biomedical research is a huge barrier. School and community-based education programmes are commonplace in many settings, yet few have been evaluated and none have demonstrated efficacy in preventing HIV infection. Promising data are emerging on prophylactic use of anti-retrovirals and conditional cash transfers for HIV prevention in these populations. Conclusions: There is an urgent need to meet the HIV prevention needs of adolescent girls and young women, particularly those who are unable to negotiate monogamy, condom use and/or male circumcision. Concerted efforts to expand the prevention options available to these young women in terms of the development of novel HIV-specific biomedical, structural and behavioural interventions are urgently needed for epidemic control. In the interim, a pragmatic approach of integrating existing HIV prevention efforts into broader sexual reproductive health services is a public health imperative.
Introduction: Recent years have seen an increasing recognition of the need to improve access and retention in care for people living with HIV/AIDS. This review aims to quantify patients along the continuum of care in sub-Saharan Africa and review possible interventions. Methods: We defined the different steps making up the care pathway and quantified losses at each step between acquisition of HIV infection and retention in care on antiretroviral therapy (ART). We conducted a systematic review of data from studies conducted in sub-Saharan Africa and published between 2000 and June 2011 for four of these steps and performed a meta-analysis when indicated; existing data syntheses were used for the remaining two steps. Results: The World Health Organization estimates that only 39% of HIV-positive individuals are aware of their status. Among patients who know their HIV-positive status, just 57% (95% CI, 48 to 66%) completed assessment of ART eligibility. Of eight studies using an ART eligibility threshold of <= 200 cells/mu L, 41% of patients (95% CI, 27% to 55%) were eligible for treatment, while of six studies using an ART eligibility threshold of <= 350 cells/mu L, 57% of patients (95% CI, 50 to 63%) were eligible. Of those not yet eligible for ART, the median proportion remaining in pre-ART care was 45%. Of eligible individuals, just 66% (95% CI, 58 to 73%) started ART and the proportion remaining on therapy after three years has previously been estimated as 65%. However, recent studies highlight that this is not a simple linear pathway, as patients cycle in and out of care. Published studies of interventions have mainly focused on reducing losses at HIV testing and during ART care, whereas few have addressed linkage and retention during the pre-ART period. Conclusions: Losses occur throughout the care pathway, especially prior to ART initiation, and for some patients this is a transient event, as they may re-engage in care at a later time. However, data regarding interventions to address this issue are scarce. Research is urgently needed to identify effective solutions so that a far greater proportion of infected individuals can benefit from long-term ART.
Research shows that gender power inequity in relationships and intimate partner violence places women at enhanced risk of HIV infection. Men who have been violent towards their partners are more likely to have HIV. Men's behaviours show a clustering of violent and risky sexual practices, suggesting important connections. This paper draws on Raewyn Connell's notion of hegemonic masculinity and reflections on emphasized femininities to argue that these sexual, and male violent, practices are rooted in and flow from cultural ideals of gender identities. The latter enables us to understand why men and women behave as they do, and the emotional and material context within which sexual behaviours are enacted. In South Africa, while gender identities show diversity, the dominant ideal of black African manhood emphasizes toughness, strength and expression of prodigious sexual success. It is a masculinity women desire; yet it is sexually risky and a barrier to men engaging with HIV treatment. Hegemonically masculine men are expected to be in control of women, and violence may be used to establish this control. Instead of resisting this, the dominant ideal of femininity embraces compliance and tolerance of violent and hurtful behaviour, including infidelity. The women partners of hegemonically masculine men are at risk of HIV because they lack control of the circumstances of sex during particularly risky encounters. They often present their acquiescence to their partners' behaviour as a trade off made to secure social or material rewards, for this ideal of femininity is upheld, not by violence per se, by a cultural system of sanctions and rewards. Thus, men and women who adopt these gender identities are following ideals with deep roots in social and cultural processes, and thus, they are models of behaviour that may be hard for individuals to critique and in which to exercise choice. Women who are materially and emotionally vulnerable are least able to risk experiencing sanctions or foregoing these rewards and thus are most vulnerable to their men folk. We argue that the goals of HIV prevention and optimizing of care can best be achieved through change in gender identities, rather than through a focus on individual sexual behaviours.
Introduction: The provision of HIV treatment and care in sub-Saharan Africa faces multiple challenges, including weak health systems and attrition of trained health workers. One potential response to overcome these challenges has been to engage community health workers (CHWs). Methodology: A systematic literature search for quantitative and qualitative studies describing the role and outcomes of CHWs in HIV care between inception and December 2012 in sub-Saharan Africa was performed in the following databases: PubMed, PsychINFO, Embase, Web of Science, JSTOR, WHOLIS, Google Scholar and SAGE journals online. Bibliographies of included articles were also searched. A narrative synthesis approach was used to analyze common emerging themes on the role and outcomes of CHWs in HIV care in sub-Saharan Africa. Results: In total, 21 studies met the inclusion criteria, documenting a range of tasks performed by CHWs. These included patient support (counselling, home-based care, education, adherence support and livelihood support) and health service support (screening, referral and health service organization and surveillance). CHWs were reported to enhance the reach, uptake and quality of HIV services, as well as the dignity, quality of life and retention in care of people living with HIV. The presence of CHWs in clinics was reported to reduce waiting times, streamline patient flow and reduce the workload of health workers. Clinical outcomes appeared not to be compromised, with no differences in virologic failure and mortality comparing patients under community-based and those under facility-based care. Despite these benefits, CHWs faced challenges related to lack of recognition, remuneration and involvement in decision making. Conclusions: CHWs can clearly contribute to HIV services delivery and strengthen human resource capacity in sub-Saharan Africa. For their contribution to be sustained, CHWs need to be recognized, remunerated and integrated in wider health systems. Further research focusing on comparative costs of CHW interventions and successful models for mainstreaming CHWs into wider health systems is needed.
Introduction: To assess evidence of an association between intimate partner violence (IPV) and HIV infection among women. Methods: Medline/PubMed, Embase, Web of Science, EBSCO, Ovid, Cochrane HIV/AIDS Group's Specialized Register and Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials were searched up to 20 May 2013 to identify studies that examined the association between IPV and HIV infection in women. We included studies on women aged] 15 years, in any form of sexually intimate relationship with a male partner. Results: Twenty-eight studies [(19 cross-sectional, 5 cohorts and 4 case-control studies) involving 331,468 individuals in 16 countries - the US (eight studies), South Africa (four studies), East Africa (10 studies), India (three studies), Brazil (one study) and multiple low-income countries (two studies)] were included. Results were pooled using RevMan 5.0. To moderate effect estimates, we analyzed all data using the random effects model, irrespective of heterogeneity level. Pooled results of cohort studies indicated that physical IPV [pooled RR (95% CI): 1.22 (1.01, 1.46)] and any type of IPV [pooled RR (95% CI): 1.28 (1.00, 1.64)] were significantly associated with HIV infection among women. Results of cross-sectional studies demonstrated significant associations of physical IPV with HIV infection among women [pooled OR (95% CI): 1.44 (1.10, 1.87)]. Similarly, results of cross-sectional studies indicated that combination of physical and sexual IPV [pooled OR (95% CI): 2.00 (1.24, 3.22) and any type of IPV [pooled OR (95% CI): 1.41 (1.16, 1.73)] were significantly associated with HIV infection among women. Conclusions: Available evidence suggests a moderate statistically significant association between IPV and HIV infection among women. To further elucidate the strength of the association between IPV and HIV infection among women, there is a need for high-quality follow-up studies conducted in different geographical regions of the world, and among individuals of diverse racial/cultural backgrounds and varying levels of HIV risks.
Introduction: Absolute CD4 T cell count and plasma viral load have been established as predictors of HIV disease progression, and CD4 T cell count is used as an indicator for initiation of antiretroviral therapy. Following long-term therapy, patients generally present with significant CD4 T cell recovery contrasting with persistently elevated CD8 T cell counts, which leads to a partial restoration of CD4:CD8 ratio. This review focuses on the relevance of the CD4:CD8 ratio on clinical outcomes, immune dysfunction and HIV reservoir size in long-term treated patients. Method: We conducted a comprehensive literature review of publications in English language using major electronic databases. Our search was focused on factors contributing to CD4:CD8 T cell ratio and clinical outcome in adult HIV-positive patients in the context of treated infection. Discussion: Low CD4:CD8 ratio has been linked to ageing and acts as a predictor of mortality in the general population. This ratio may represent the combined effects of inflammation and immunological changes called "inflammaging.'' Although the mechanisms underlying partial correction of the CD4:CD8 ratio and persistently elevated CD8 T cell count in long-term treated patients remain poorly understood, it has been recently indicated that patients with optimal CD4 T cell recovery and low CD4:CD8 ratio still harbour increased immune activation, an immune senescent phenotype and have a higher risk of non-AIDS morbidity and mortality. This review reconsiders CD4:CD8 ratio in the light of advances in the understanding of immune dysfunction and examines its pathophysiological features and implications on clinical outcome and HIV reservoir size in longterm treated HIV-positive adults. Conclusion: The CD4:CD8 ratio can contribute to the immunological evaluation of treated patients in a long-term follow-up and may be applied for monitoring both immune dysfunction and viral reservoir size in immune-based clinical trials.
Introduction: Informing children of their own HIV status is an important aspect of long-term disease management, yet there is little evidence of how and when this type of disclosure takes place in resource-limited settings and its impact. Methods: MEDLINE, EMBASE and Cochrane Databases were searched for the terms hiv AND disclos* AND (child* OR adolesc*). We reviewed 934 article citations and the references of relevant articles to find articles describing disclosure to children and adolescents in resource-limited settings. Data were extracted regarding prevalence of disclosure, factors influencing disclosure, process of disclosure and impact of disclosure on children and caregivers. Results: Thirty-two articles met the inclusion criteria, with 16 reporting prevalence of disclosure. Of these 16 studies, proportions of disclosed children ranged from 0 to 69.2%. Important factors influencing disclosure included the child's age and perceived ability to understand the meaning of HIV infection and factors related to caregivers, such as education level, openness about their own HIV status and beliefs about children's capacities. Common barriers to disclosure were fear that the child would disclose HIV status to others, fear of stigma and concerns for children's emotional or physical health. Disclosure was mostly led by caregivers and conceptualized as a one-time event, while others described it as a gradual process. Few studies measured the impact of disclosure on children. Findings suggested adherence to antiretroviral therapy (ART) improved post-disclosure but the emotional and psychological effects of disclosure were variable. Conclusions: Most studies show that a minority of HIV-infected children in resource-limited settings know his/her HIV status. While caregivers identify many factors that influence disclosure, studies suggest both positive and negative effects for children. More research is needed to implement age- and culture-appropriate disclosure in resource-limited settings.
The purpose of this review paper is to provide information and guidance to those in the health care setting about why it is important to combat HIV‐related stigma and how to successfully address its causes and consequences within health facilities. Research shows that stigma and discrimination in the health care setting and elsewhere contributes to keeping people, including health workers, from accessing HIV prevention, care and treatment services and adopting key preventive behaviours. Studies from different parts of the world reveal that there are three main immediately actionable causes of HIV‐related stigma in health facilities: lack of awareness among health workers of what stigma looks like and why it is damaging; fear of casual contact stemming from incomplete knowledge about HIV transmission; and the association of HIV with improper or immoral behaviour. To combat stigma in health facilities, interventions must focus on the individual, environmental and policy levels. The paper argues that reducing stigma by working at all three levels is feasible and will likely result in long‐lasting benefits for both health workers and HIV‐positive patients. The existence of tested stigma‐reduction tools and approaches has moved the field forward. What is needed now is the political will and resources to support and scale up stigma‐reduction activities throughout health care settings globally.
Introduction: Antiretroviral treatment (ART) has been scaled up over the last decade but compared to adults, children living with HIV are less likely to receive ART. Moreover, children and adolescents are more vulnerable than adults to virological failure (VF) and emergence of drug resistance. In this study we determined virological outcome in perinatally HIV-1-infected children and adolescents receiving ART in Togo. Methods: HIV viral load (VL) testing was consecutively proposed to all children and adolescents who were on ART for at least 12 months when attending HIV healthcare services for their routine follow-up visit (June to September 2014). Plasma HIV-1 VL was measured using the m2000 RealTime HIV-1 assay (Abbott Molecular, Des Plaines, IL, USA). Genotypic drug resistance was done for all samples with VL > 1000 copies/ml. Results and discussion: Among 283 perinatally HIV-1-infected children and adolescents included, 167 (59%) were adolescents and 116 (41%) were children. The median duration on ART was 48 months (interquartile range: 28 to 68 months). For 228 (80.6%), the current ART combination consisted of two nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitors (NRTIs) (zidovudine and lamivudine) and one non-nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitor (NNRTI) (nevirapine or efavirenz). Only 28 (9.9%) were on a protease inhibitor (PI)-based regimen. VL was below the detection limit (i.e. 40 copies/ml) for 102 (36%), between 40 and 1000 copies/ml for 35 (12.4%) and above 1000 copies/ml for 146 (51.6%). Genotypic drug-resistance testing was successful for 125/146 (85.6%); 110/125 (88.0%) were resistant to both NRTIs and NNRTIs, 1/125 (0.8%) to NRTIs only, 4/125 (3.2%) to NNRTIs only and three harboured viruses resistant to reverse transcriptase and PIs. Overall, 86% (108/125) of children and adolescents experiencing VF and successfully genotyped, corresponding thus to at least 38% of the study population, had either no effective ART or had only a single effective drug in their current ART regimen. Conclusions: Our study provided important information on virological outcome on lifelong ART in perinatally HIV-1-infected children and adolescents who were still on ART and continued to attend antiretroviral (ARV) clinics for follow-up visits. Actual conditions for scaling up and monitoring lifelong ART in children in resource-limited countries can have dramatic long-term outcomes and illustrate that paediatric ART receives inadequate attention.
Background: The aim of this study was to describe barriers to accessing and accepting highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART) by HIV-positive mothers in the Ugandan Kabarole District's Programme for the Prevention of Mother to Child Transmission-Plus (PMTCT-Plus). Methods: Our study was a qualitative descriptive exploratory study using thematic analysis. Individual in-depth interviews (n = 45) were conducted with randomly selected HIV-positive mothers who attended this programme, and who: (a) never enrolled in HAART (n = 17); (b) enrolled but did not come back to receive HAART (n = 2); (c) defaulted/interrupted HAART (n = 14); and (d) are currently adhering to HAART (n = 12). A focus group was also conducted to verify the results from the interviews. Results: Results indicated that economic concerns, particularly transport costs from residences to the clinics, represented the greatest barrier to accessing treatment. In addition, HIV-related stigma and non-disclosure of HIV status to clients' sexual partners, long waiting times at the clinic and suboptimal provider-patient interactions at the hospital emerged as significant barriers. Conclusions: These barriers to antiretroviral treatment of pregnant and post-natal women need to be addressed in order to improve HAART uptake and adherence for this group of the population. This would improve their survival and, at the same time, drastically reduce HIV transmission from mother to child.
Introduction: Despite the efficacy of pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) in preventing HIV transmission, few studies have evaluated PrEP use and retention in care outcomes in real-world settings outside of clinical trials. Methods: Data were collected from PrEP clinical care programmes in three mid-size US cities: Providence, Rhode Island (RI); Jackson, Mississippi (MS); and St. Louis, Missouri (MO). We assessed the demographic and social characteristics of patients prescribed PrEP and documented their insurance and copayment experiences. We assessed retention in PrEP care at three and six months. Multivariate analyses were used to predict retention in care among men who have sex with men (MSM). HIV acquisition among the cohort was also assessed. Results: A total of 267 (RI: 117; MS: 88; MO: 62) patients were prescribed PrEP; 81% filled prescriptions (RI: 73%; MS: 82%; MO: 94%; p<0.001). Patients in MS and MO were more commonly African American than in RI (72% and 26% vs. 7%, respectively), but less frequently Latino (2% and 3% vs. 24%, respectively). More patients reported living below the federal poverty line in MS (52%) compared to MO (23%) and RI (26%). Most patients were MSM (RI: 92%; MS: 88%; MO: 84%). The majority of MSM reported recent condomless anal sex (RI: 70%; MS: 65%; MO: 75%). Among 171 patients prescribed PrEP at least six months beforehand, 72% were retained in care at three months (RI: 68%; MS: 70%; MO: 87%; p = 0.12) and 57% were retained in PrEP care at six months (RI: 53%: MS: 61%; MO: 63%; p = 0.51). Insurance status and medication costs were not found to be significant barriers for obtaining PrEP. Three patients became infected with HIV during the six-month period after being prescribed PrEP (1.1%; 3/267), including one in RI (suspected acute HIV infection), one in MO (confirmed poor adherence) and one in MS (seroconverted just prior to initiation). Conclusions: PrEP initiation and retention in care differed across these distinct settings. In contrast, retention in PrEP care was consistently suboptimal across sites. Further research is needed to identify the individual, social and structural factors that may impede or enhance retention in PrEP care
Introduction: Same-sex practices and orientation are both stigmatized and criminalized in many countries across sub-Saharan Africa. This study aimed to assess the relationship of fear of seeking healthcare and disclosure of same-sex practices among a sample of men who have sex with men (MSM) in Swaziland with demographic, socio-economic and behavioural determinants. Methods: Three hundred and twenty-three men who reported having had anal sex with a man in the past year were recruited using respondent-driven sampling and administered a structured survey instrument. Asymptotically unbiased estimates of prevalence of stigma and human rights abuses generated using the RDSII estimator are reported with bootstrapped confidence intervals (CIs). Weighted simple and multiple logistic regressions of fear of seeking healthcare and disclosure of same-sex practices to a healthcare provider with demographic, social and behavioural variables are reported. Results: Stigma was common, including 61.7% (95% CI = 54.0-69.0%) reporting fear of seeking healthcare, 44.1% (95% CI = 36.2-51.3%) any enacted stigma and 73.9% (95% CI = 67.7-80.1%) any perceived social stigma (family, friends). Ever disclosing sexual practices with other men to healthcare providers was low (25.6%, 95% CI = 19.2-32.1%). In multiple logistic regression, fear of seeking healthcare was significantly associated with: having experienced legal discrimination as a result of sexual orientation or practice (aOR = 1.9, 95% CI = 1.1-3.4), having felt like you wanted to end your life (aOR -2.0, 95% CI = 1.2-3.4), having been raped (aOR = 11.0, 95% CI = 1.4-84.4), finding it very difficult to insist on condom use when a male partner does not want to use a condom (aOR = 2.1, 95% CI = 1.0-4.1) and having a non-Swazi nationality at birth (aOR = 0.18, 95% CI = 0.05-0.68). In multiple logistic regression, disclosure of same-sex practices to a healthcare provider was significantly associated with: having completed secondary education or more (aOR = 5.1, 95% CI = 2.5-10.3), having used a condom with last casual male sexual partner (aOR = 2.4, 95% CI = 1.0-5.7) and having felt like you wanted to end your life (aOR = 2.1, 95% CI = 1.2-3.8). Conclusions: MSM in Swaziland report high levels of stigma and discrimination. The observed associations can inform structural interventions to increase healthcare seeking and disclosure of sexual practices to healthcare workers, facilitating enhanced behavioural and biomedical HIV-prevention approaches among MSM in Swaziland.
Adolescents and young adults are at increased risk for HIV due to the many developmental, psychological, social, and structural transitions that converge in this period of the lifespan. In addition, adolescent deaths resulting from HIV continue to rise despite declines in other age groups. There are also young key populations (YKPs) that bear disproportionate burdens of HIV and are the most vulnerable, including young men who have sex with men (MSM), transgender youth, young people who inject drugs, and adolescent and young adult sex workers. As a society, we must do more to stop new HIV infections and untimely HIV‐related deaths through both primary and secondary prevention and better management approaches. Using an interwoven prevention and treatment cascade approach, the starting point for all interventions must be HIV counselling and testing. Subsequent interventions for both HIV‐negative and HIV‐positive youth must be “adolescent‐centred,” occur within the socio‐ecological context of young people and take advantage of the innovations and technologies that youth have easily incorporated into their daily lives. In order to achieve the global goals of zero infections, zero discrimination and zero deaths, a sustained focus on HIV research, policy and advocacy for YKPs must occur.
Introduction : Successful population‐level antiretroviral therapy (ART) adherence will be necessary to realize both the clinical and prevention benefits of antiretroviral scale‐up and, ultimately, the end of AIDS. Although many people living with HIV are adhering well, others struggle and most are likely to experience challenges in adherence that may threaten virologic suppression at some point during lifelong therapy. Despite the importance of ART adherence, supportive interventions have generally not been implemented at scale. The objective of this review is to summarize the recommendations of clinical, research, and public health experts for scalable ART adherence interventions in resource‐limited settings. Methods : In July 2015, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation convened a meeting to discuss the most promising ART adherence interventions for use at scale in resource‐limited settings. This article summarizes that discussion with recent updates. It is not a systematic review, but rather provides practical considerations for programme implementation based on evidence from individual studies, systematic reviews, meta‐analyses, and the World Health Organization Consolidated Guidelines for HIV, which include evidence from randomized controlled trials in low‐ and middle‐income countries. Interventions are categorized broadly as education and counselling; information and communication technology‐enhanced solutions; healthcare delivery restructuring; and economic incentives and social protection interventions. Each category is discussed, including descriptions of interventions, current evidence for effectiveness, and what appears promising for the near future. Approaches to intervention implementation and impact assessment are then described. Results and discussion : The evidence base is promising for currently available, effective, and scalable ART adherence interventions for resource‐limited settings. Numerous interventions build on existing health care infrastructure and leverage available resources. Those most widely studied and implemented to date involve peer counselling, adherence clubs, and short message service (SMS). Many additional interventions could have an important impact on ART adherence with further development, including standardized counselling through multi‐media technology, electronic dose monitoring, decentralized and differentiated models of care, and livelihood interventions. Optimal targeting and tailoring of interventions will require improved adherence measurement. Conclusions : The opportunity exists today to address and resolve many of the challenges to effective ART adherence, so that they do not limit the potential of ART to help bring about the end of AIDS.
Introduction: Recent international guidelines call for expanded access to triple-drug antiretroviral therapy (ART) in HIV-positive women during pregnancy and postpartum. However, high levels of non-adherence and/or disengagement from care may attenuate the benefits of ART for HIV transmission and maternal health. We examined the frequency and predictors of disengagement from care among women initiating ART during pregnancy in Cape Town, South Africa. Methods: We used routine medical records to follow-up pregnant women initiating ART within prevention of mother-to-child transmission of HIV services in Cape Town, South Africa. Outcomes assessed through six months postpartum were (1) disengagement (no attendance within 56 days of a scheduled visit) and (2) missed visits (returning to care 14-56 days late for a scheduled visit). Results: A total of 358 women (median age, 28 years; median gestational age, 26 weeks) initiated ART during pregnancy. By six months postpartum, 24% of women (n = 86) had missed at least one visit and an additional 32% (n = 115) had disengaged from care; together, 49% of women had either missed a visit or had disengaged by six months postpartum. Disengagement was more than twice as frequent postpartum compared to in the antenatal period (6.2 vs. 2.4 per 100 woman-months, respectively; p < 0.0001). In a proportional hazards model, later gestational age at initiation (HR: 1.04; 95% CI: 1.00-1.07; p = 0.030) and being newly diagnosed with HIV (HR: 1.57; 95% CI: 1.07-2.33; p = 0.022) were significant predictors of disengagement after adjusting for patient age, starting CD4 cell count and site of ART initiation. Conclusions: These results demonstrate that missed visits and disengagement from care occur frequently, particularly post-delivery, among HIV-positive women initiating ART during pregnancy. Women who are newly diagnosed with HIV may be particularly vulnerable and there is an urgent need for interventions both to promote retention overall, as well as targeting women newly diagnosed with HIV during pregnancy.
Introduction: Community-based models of antiretroviral therapy (ART) delivery have been recommended to support ART expansion and retention in resource-limited settings. However, the evidence base for community-based models of care is limited. We describe the implementation of community-based adherence clubs (CACs) at a large, public-sector facility in periurban Cape Town, South Africa. Methods: Starting in May 2012, stable ART patients were down-referred from the primary care community health centre (CHC) to CACs. Eligibility was based on self-reported adherence, >12 months on ART and viral suppression. CACs were facilitated by four community health workers and met every eight weeks for group counselling, a brief symptom screen and distribution of pre-packed ART. The CACs met in community venues for all visits including annual blood collection and clinical consultations. CAC patients could send a patient-nominated treatment supporter ("buddy") to collect their ART at alternate CAC visits. Patient outcomes [mortality, loss to follow-up and viral rebound (>1000 copies/ml)] during the first 18 months of the programme are described using Kaplan-Meier methods. Results and Discussion: From June 2012 to December 2013, 74 CACs were established, each with 25-30 patients, providing ART to 2133 patients. CAC patients were predominantly female (71%) and lived within 3 km of the facility (70%). During the analysis period, 9 patients in a CAC died (<0.1%), 53 were up-referred for clinical complications (0.3%) and 573 CAC patients sent a buddy to at least one CAC visit (27%). After 12 months in a CAC, 6% of patients were lost to follow-up and fewer than 2% of patients retained experienced viral rebound. Conclusions: Over a period of 18 months, a community-based model of care was rapidly implemented decentralizing more than 2000 patients in a high-prevalence, resource-limited setting. The fundamental challenge for this out of facility model was ensuring that patients receiving ART within a CAC were viewed as an extension of the facility and part of the responsibility of CHC staff. Further research is needed to support down-referral sooner after ART initiation and to describe patient experiences of community-based ART delivery.
Introduction : Increasingly, there is a need for health authority scale up of successfully piloted differentiated models of antiretroviral therapy (ART) delivery. However, there is a paucity of evidence on system‐wide outcomes after scale‐up. In the Cape Town health district, stable adult patients were referred to adherence clubs (ACs) – a group model of ART delivery with five visits per year. By the end of March 2015, over 32,000 ART patients were in an AC. We describe patient outcomes of a representative sample of AC patients during this scale‐up. Methods : Patients enrolled in an AC at non‐research supported sites between 2011 and 2014 were eligible for analysis. We sampled 10% of ACs ( n = 100) in quintets proportional to the number of ACs at each facility, linking each patient to city‐wide laboratory and service access data to validate retention and virologic outcomes. We digitized registers and used competing risks regression and cross‐sectional methods to estimate outcomes: mortality, transfers, loss to follow‐up (LTFU) and viral load suppression (≤400 copies/mL). Predictors of LTFU and viral rebound were assessed using Cox proportional hazards models. Results : Of the 3216 adults contributing 4019 person years of follow‐up (89% in an AC, median 1.1 years), 70% were women. Retention was 95.2% (95% CI, 94.0‐96.4) at 12 months and 89.3% (95% CI, 87.1‐91.4) at 24 months after AC enrolment. In the 13 months prior to analysis closure, 88.1% of patients had viral load assessments and of those, viral loads ≤400 copies/mL were found in 97.2% (95% CI, 96.5‐97.8) of patients. Risk of LTFU was higher in younger patients and in patients accessing ART from facilities with larger ART cohorts. Risk of viral rebound was higher in younger patients, those that had been on ART for longer and patients that had never sent a buddy to collect their medication. Conclusions : This is the first analysis reporting patient outcomes after health authorities scaled‐up a differentiated care model across a high burden district. The findings provide substantial reassurance that stable patients on long‐term ART can safely be offered care options, which are more convenient to patients and less burdensome to services.
Introduction: Efforts to increase awareness of HIV status have led to growing interest in community-based models of HIV testing. Maximizing the benefits of such programmes requires timely linkage to care and treatment. Thus, an understanding of linkage and its potential barriers is imperative for scale-up. Methods: This study was conducted in rural South Africa. HIV-positive clients (n = 492) identified through home-based HIV counselling and testing (HBHCT) were followed up to assess linkage to care, defined as obtaining a CD4 count. Among 359 eligible clients, we calculated the proportion that linked to care within three months. For 226 clients with available data, we calculated the median CD4. To determine factors associated with the rate of linkage, Cox regression was performed on a subsample of 196 clients with additional data on socio-demographic factors and personal characteristics. Results: We found that 62.1% (95% CI: 55.7 to 68.5%) of clients from the primary sample (n = 359) linked to care within three months of HBHCT. Among those who linked, the median CD4 count was 341 cells/mm(3) (interquartile range [IQR] 224 to 542 cells/mm 3). In the subsample of 196 clients, factors predictive of increased linkage included the following: believing that drugs/supplies were available at the health facility (adjusted hazard ratio [aHR] 1.78; 95% CI: 1.07 to 2.96); experiencing three or more depression symptoms (aHR 2.09; 95% CI: 1.24 to 3.53); being a caregiver for four or more people (aHR 1.93; 95% CI: 1.07 to 3.47); and knowing someone who died of HIV/AIDS (aHR 1.68; 95% CI: 1.13 to 2.49). Factors predictive of decreased linkage included the following: younger age - 15 to 24 years (aHR 0.50; 95% CI: 0.28 to 0.91); living with two or more adults (aHR 0.52; 95% CI: 0.35 to 0.77); not believing or being unsure about the test results (aHR 0.48; 95% CI: 0.30 to 0.77); difficulty finding time to seek health care (aHR 0.40; 95% CI: 0.24 to 0.67); believing that antiretroviral treatment can make you sick (aHR 0.56; 95% CI: 0.35 to 0.89); and drinking alcohol (aHR 0.52; 95% CI: 0.34 to 0.80). Conclusions: The findings highlight barriers to linkage following an increasingly popular model of HIV testing. Further, they draw attention to ways in which practical interventions and health education strategies could be used to improve linkage to care.