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Quantifying and addressing losses along the continuum of care for people living with HIV infection in sub-Saharan Africa: a systematic review

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      Abstract

      IntroductionRecent 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.MethodsWe 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.ResultsThe 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/µL, 41% of patients (95% CI, 27% to 55%) were eligible for treatment, while of six studies using an ART eligibility threshold of≤350 cells/µL, 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.ConclusionsLosses 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.

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      National surveillance data show recent, marked reductions in morbidity and mortality associated with the acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS). To evaluate these declines, we analyzed data on 1255 patients, each of whom had at least one CD4+ count below 100 cells per cubic millimeter, who were seen at nine clinics specializing in the treatment of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection in eight U.S. cities from January 1994 through June 1997. Mortality among the patients declined from 29.4 per 100 person-years in the first quarter of 1995 to 8.8 per 100 in the second quarter of 1997. There were reductions in mortality regardless of sex, race, age, and risk factors for transmission of HIV. The incidence of any of three major opportunistic infections (Pneumocystis carinii pneumonia, Mycobacterium avium complex disease, and cytomegalovirus retinitis) declined from 21.9 per 100 person-years in 1994 to 3.7 per 100 person-years by mid-1997. In a failure-rate model, increases in the intensity of antiretroviral therapy (classified as none, monotherapy, combination therapy without a protease inhibitor, and combination therapy with a protease inhibitor) were associated with stepwise reductions in morbidity and mortality. Combination antiretroviral therapy was associated with the most benefit; the inclusion of protease inhibitors in such regimens conferred additional benefit. Patients with private insurance were more often prescribed protease inhibitors and had lower mortality rates than those insured by Medicare or Medicaid. The recent declines in morbidity and mortality due to AIDS are attributable to the use of more intensive antiretroviral therapies.
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        Roughly 3 million people worldwide were receiving antiretroviral therapy (ART) at the end of 2007, but an estimated 6.7 million were still in need of treatment and a further 2.7 million became infected with HIV in 2007. Prevention efforts might reduce HIV incidence but are unlikely to eliminate this disease. We investigated a theoretical strategy of universal voluntary HIV testing and immediate treatment with ART, and examined the conditions under which the HIV epidemic could be driven towards elimination. We used mathematical models to explore the effect on the case reproduction number (stochastic model) and long-term dynamics of the HIV epidemic (deterministic transmission model) of testing all people in our test-case community (aged 15 years and older) for HIV every year and starting people on ART immediately after they are diagnosed HIV positive. We used data from South Africa as the test case for a generalised epidemic, and assumed that all HIV transmission was heterosexual. The studied strategy could greatly accelerate the transition from the present endemic phase, in which most adults living with HIV are not receiving ART, to an elimination phase, in which most are on ART, within 5 years. It could reduce HIV incidence and mortality to less than one case per 1000 people per year by 2016, or within 10 years of full implementation of the strategy, and reduce the prevalence of HIV to less than 1% within 50 years. We estimate that in 2032, the yearly cost of the present strategy and the theoretical strategy would both be US$1.7 billion; however, after this time, the cost of the present strategy would continue to increase whereas that of the theoretical strategy would decrease. Universal voluntary HIV testing and immediate ART, combined with present prevention approaches, could have a major effect on severe generalised HIV/AIDS epidemics. This approach merits further mathematical modelling, research, and broad consultation.
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          Mortality of HIV-1-infected patients in the first year of antiretroviral therapy: comparison between low-income and high-income countries.

          Highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART) is being scaled up in developing countries. We compared baseline characteristics and outcomes during the first year of HAART between HIV-1-infected patients in low-income and high-income settings. 18 HAART programmes in Africa, Asia, and South America (low-income settings) and 12 HIV cohort studies from Europe and North America (high-income settings) provided data for 4810 and 22,217, respectively, treatment-naïve adult patients starting HAART. All patients from high-income settings and 2725 (57%) patients from low-income settings were actively followed-up and included in survival analyses. Compared with high-income countries, patients starting HAART in low-income settings had lower CD4 cell counts (median 108 cells per muL vs 234 cells per muL), were more likely to be female (51%vs 25%), and more likely to start treatment with a non-nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitor (NNRTI) (70%vs 23%). At 6 months, the median number of CD4 cells gained (106 cells per muL vs 103 cells per muL) and the percentage of patients reaching HIV-1 RNA levels lower than 500 copies/mL (76%vs 77%) were similar. Mortality was higher in low-income settings (124 deaths during 2236 person-years of follow-up) than in high-income settings (414 deaths during 20,532 person-years). The adjusted hazard ratio (HR) of mortality comparing low-income with high-income settings fell from 4.3 (95% CI 1.6-11.8) during the first month to 1.5 (0.7-3.0) during months 7-12. The provision of treatment free of charge in low-income settings was associated with lower mortality (adjusted HR 0.23; 95% CI 0.08-0.61). Patients starting HAART in resource-poor settings have increased mortality rates in the first months on therapy, compared with those in developed countries. Timely diagnosis and assessment of treatment eligibility, coupled with free provision of HAART, might reduce this excess mortality.
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            Author and article information

            Affiliations
            [1 ]Department of Clinical Research, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, Faculty of Infectious and Tropical Diseases, London, United Kingdom
            [2 ]The Desmond Tutu HIV Centre, Institute for Infectious Disease and Molecular Medicine, Faculty of Health Science, University of Cape Town, Cape Town, South Africa
            [3 ]Centre for Infectious Disease Epidemiology and Research, University of Cape Town, Cape Town, South Africa
            Author notes
            [§ ] Corresponding author: Katharina Kranzer, Department of Clinical Research, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, Faculty of Infectious and Tropical Diseases, Keppel Street, London WC1E 7HT. Tel: +44 7809237246. ( katharina.kranzer@ 123456lshtm.ac.uk )
            Journal
            J Int AIDS Soc
            J Int AIDS Soc
            JIAS
            Journal of the International AIDS Society
            International AIDS Society
            1758-2652
            19 November 2012
            2012
            : 15
            : 2
            23199799
            3503237
            17383
            10.7448/IAS.15.2.17383
            © 2012 Kranzer K et al; licensee International AIDS Society

            This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 3.0 Unported License, permitting all non-commercial use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

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            Research Article

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