ART

The Ethiopian Paediatric HIV Cohort was established to identify clinical and laboratory predictors of virological treatment failure to ultimately develop a clinical–immunological prediction rule with area under the curve of >0.80 for detecting first-line antiretroviral therapy failure (ARTF). It will also assess the performance of the current WHO guidelines for detection of first-line ARTF in children. Using a prospective cohort design, HIV-infected children and adolescents below the age of 18 years are followed every 6 months with a set of clinical and laboratory parameters at 6 hospitals in southern Ethiopia. From October 2015 through April 2016, 628 children have been enrolled. The cohort will be completed in September 2017. The successful completion of this study will allow for better targeting of viral-load testing to those at highest risk in resource-poor settings and provide clinicians and policymakers with a practical prediction rule.

The Ethiopian HIV epidemic is currently on the wane. However, the situation for infected children is in some ways lagging behind due to low treatment coverage and deficient prevention of mother-to-child transmission. Too few studies have examined HIV infected children presenting to care in low-income countries in general. Considering the presence of local variations in the nature of the epidemic, a study in Ethiopia could be of special value for the continuing fight against HIV. The aim of this study is to describe the main characteristics of children with HIV presenting to care at a district hospital in a resource-limited area in southern Ethiopia. The aim is also to analyse factors affecting pre-ART loss to follow-up, time to ART-initiation, and disease stage upon presentation. The loss to follow-up is alarmingly high and children present too late. Further research is needed to explore specific causes and possible solutions.

We assessed adherence to standards of HIV care among health workers in the West Nile Region of Uganda. We conducted a cross-sectional study in nine health facilities and assessed records of a cohort of 270 HIV clients that enrolled on ART 12 months prior. The performance of each health facility on the different indicators of standards of HIV/AIDS care was determined and compared with the recommended national guidelines. Adherence to standards of HIV/AIDS care at facilities was inadequate. Performance was better at the start of ART but declined during the follow-up period. Higher level facilities were more likely to adhere to standards like CD4 monitoring and maintaining HIV clients on a standard ARV regimen. Efforts geared towards strengthening the health system, including support supervision and provision of care guidelines and job aides are needed, especially for lower level facilities.

Tajikistan and other Central Asian republics are facing intertwined epidemics of injecting drug use and HIV. This paper aims to examine drug scene, drug use, drug-related infectious diseases, drug treatment and other responses to health consequences of drug injecting in two Tajik cities of Kulob (Khatlon Region) and Khorog (Gorno-Badakhshan Autonomous Oblast). We conducted 12 focus group discussions in Kulob and Khorog and analysed peer-reviewed literature, published and unpublished programme and country reports and other publications that focused on substance use and/or HIV/AIDS in Tajikistan and included the Khatlon and Gorno-Badakhshan regions. Tajikistan IBBS data point to the potential problems in using composite national prevalence as an adequate reflection of the HIV epidemic among PWID in the country and highlight the importance of examining site-specific prevalence rates for better understanding of the dynamics of the epidemic over time, as well as potential problems related to the reliability of data. Furthermore, our analysis highlights that in a country where almost all PWID inject opiates, agonist treatment should be an intervention of choice. Scaling-up both OST and ART coverage must be seen as the top priority for reducing HIV prevalence and incidence in Tajikistan. Naloxone distribution programmes need to be expanded and drug treatment, harm reduction, and HIV services that meet the specific needs of female injecting drug users should be put in place.

In response to concerns about the emergence of HIV drug resistance (HIVDR), the World Health Organization (WHO) has developed a comprehensive set of early warning indicators (EWIs) to monitor HIV drug resistance and good programme practice at antiretroviral therapy (ART) sites. In 2012, Namibia utilized the updated WHO EWI guidance and abstracted data from adult and pediatric patients from 50 ART sites for the following EWIs: 1. On-time Pill Pick-up, 2. Retention in Care, 3. Pharmacy Stock-outs, 4. Dispensing Practices, and 5. Virological Suppression. The successful 2012 EWI exercise provides Namibia a solid evidence base, which can be used to make national statements about programmatic functioning and possible HIVDR. This evidence base will serve to contextualize results from Namibia's surveys of HIVDR, which involves genotype testing. EWI abstraction has prompted the national program and its counterparts to engage sites in dialogue regarding the need to strengthen adherence and retention of patients on ART. The EWI collection process and EWI results will serve to optimize patient care and support Namibia in making evidence-based recommendations and take action to minimize the emergence of preventable HIVDR.

Despite global progress in the fight to reduce maternal mortality, HIV-related maternal deaths remain persistently high, particularly in much of Africa. Lifelong antiretroviral therapy (ART) appears to be the most effective way to prevent these deaths, but the rates of three key outcomes—ART initiation, retention in care, and long-term ART adherence—remain low. This systematic review synthesized evidence on health systems factors affecting these outcomes in pregnant and postpartum women living with HIV. Low prioritization of maternal ART and persistent dropout along the maternal ART cascade were key findings. Service delivery barriers included poor communication and coordination among health system actors, poor clinical practices, and gaps in provider training. The few studies that assessed maternal ART interventions demonstrated the importance of multi-pronged, multi-leveled interventions. There has been a lack of emphasis on the experiences, needs, and vulnerabilities particular to HIV-infected pregnant and postpartum women. Supporting these women to successfully traverse the maternal ART cascade requires carefully designed and targeted interventions throughout the steps. Careful design of integrated service delivery models is of critical importance in this effort. Key knowledge gaps and research priorities were also identified, including definitions and indicators of adherence rates, and the importance of cumulative measures of dropout along the maternal ART cascade.

Despite progress reducing maternal mortality, HIV-related maternal deaths remain high, accounting, for example, for up to 24 percent of all pregnancy-related deaths in sub-Saharan Africa. Antiretroviral therapy (ART) is effective in improving outcomes among HIV-infected pregnant and postpartum women, yet rates of initiation, adherence, and retention remain low. This systematic literature review synthesized evidence about individual and contextual factors affecting ART use among HIV-infected pregnant and postpartum women. Thirty-four studies were included in the review. Individual-level factors included both those within and outside a woman’s awareness and control (e.g., commitment to child’s health or age). Individual-level barriers included poor understanding of HIV, ART, and prevention of mother-to-child transmission; and difficulty managing practical demands of ART. At an interpersonal level, disclosure to a spouse and spousal involvement in treatment were associated with improved initiation, adherence, and retention. Fear of negative consequences was a barrier to disclosure. At a community level, stigma was a major barrier. Key structural barriers and enablers were related to health system use and engagement, including access to services and health worker attitudes. To be successful, programs seeking to expand access to and continued use of ART by integrating maternal health and HIV services must identify and address the relevant barriers and enablers in their own context that are described in this review. Further research on this population, including those who drop out of or never access health services, is needed to inform effective implementation.

Unpublished

Achieving high rates of adherence to antiretroviral therapy (ART) in resource-poor settings comprises serious, but different, challenges in both the first months of treatment and during the life-long maintenance phase. We measured the impact of a health system-oriented, facility-based intervention to improve clinic attendance and patient adherence. We conducted the study in 12 rural district hospitals (6 intervention, 6 control) in Kenya and randomly selected 1,894 adult patients over 18 years of age in two cohorts. Among experienced patients, the percentage attending the clinic on or before a scheduled appointment increased in both level and trend (increase per month) following the intervention, as did the level and trend of those keeping appointments within three days.

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