Effectiveness of Antiretroviral Treatment in a South African Program

Knowledge Translation Unit, University of Cape Town Lung Institute, University of Cape Town, Cape Town, South Africa.
Archives of Internal Medicine (Impact Factor: 17.33). 02/2008; 168(1):86-93. DOI: 10.1001/archinternmed.2007.10
Source: PubMed


The effectiveness of the South African government's expanding antiretroviral treatment program is unknown. Observational studies of treatment effectiveness are prone to selection bias, rarely compare patients receiving antiretroviral treatment with similar patients not receiving antiretroviral treatment, and underestimate mortality rates unless patients are actively followed up.
We followed up 14 267 patients in the Public Sector Anti-Retroviral Treatment project in Free State, South Africa, for up to 20 months after enrollment. A total of 3619 patients received highly active triple antiretroviral treatment (HAART) for up to 19 months (median, 6 months; interquartile range, 3-9 months) after enrollment. Patients' clinical data were linked with the national mortality register. Marginal structural regression models adjusted for baseline and time-varying covariates.
Of 4570 patients followed up for at least 1 year, 53.2% died. Eighty-seven percent of patients who died had not received HAART. HAART was associated with lower mortality (hazard ratio, 0.14; 95% confidence interval [CI], 0.11-0.18) and with the presence of tuberculosis (hazard ratio, 0.61; 95% CI, 0.46-0.81) after adjusting for age, sex, weight, clinic, district, CD4 cell count, cotrimoxazole therapy, tuberculosis at baseline, and previous antiretroviral therapy. Cotrimoxazole therapy was associated with lower mortality (hazard ratio, 0.37; 95% CI, 0.32-0.42). Each month of HAART was associated with an increase in CD4 cell count of 15.1 cells/microL (95% CI, 14.7-15.5 cells/microL) and with an increase in body weight of 602 g (95% CI, 548-658 g).
HAART provided through these South African government health services seems as effective as that provided in high-income countries. Delays starting HAART contributed to high mortality rates. Faster expansion and timely commencement of HAART are needed.

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Available from: Christopher J Seebregts
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    • "However, the vast majority of primary care clinics in the province could not provide on-site access to HIV care but rather had to refer their patients to primary care clinics with ART assessment facilities. While patients on ART had good outcomes [30], [31], estimated coverage was only 25% [29], [32], the mortality rate amongst patients awaiting ART was high [30], and high rates of burnout in nurses working in ART clinics were recorded [33]. "
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    ABSTRACT: Integration of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) care into primary care services is one strategy proposed to achieve universal access to antiretroviral treatment (ART) for HIV-positive patients in high burden countries. There is a need for controlled studies of programmes to integrate HIV care with details of the services being integrated. A semi-quantitative questionnaire was developed in consultation with clinic staff, tested for internal consistency using Cronbach's alpha coefficients and checked for inter-observer reliability. It was used to conduct four assessments of the integration of HIV care into referring primary care clinics (mainstreaming HIV) and into the work of all nurses within ART clinics (internal integration) and the integration of pre-ART and ART care during the Streamlining Tasks and Roles to Expand Treatment and Care for HIV (STRETCH) trial in South Africa. Mean total integration and four component integration scores at intervention and control clinics were compared using one way analysis of variance (ANOVA). Repeated measures ANOVA was used to analyse changes in scores during the trial. Cronbach's alpha coefficients for total integration, pre-ART and ART integration and mainstreaming HIV and internal integration scores showed good internal consistency. Mean total integration, mainstreaming HIV and ART integration scores increased significantly at intervention clinics by the third assessment. Mean pre-ART integration scores were almost maximal at the first assessment and showed no further change. There was no change in mean internal integration score. The questionnaire developed in this study is a valid tool with potential for monitoring integration of HIV care in other settings. The STRETCH trial interventions resulted in increased integration of HIV care, particularly ART care, by providing HIV care at referring primary care clinics, but had no effect on integrating HIV care into the work of all nurses with the ART clinic.
    Full-text · Article · Jan 2013 · PLoS ONE
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    • "Despite the fact that ART coverage in sub-Saharan Africa has increased substantially in recent years and had reached 6.6 million people by the end of 2010, approximately 9 million people remain untreated (World Health Organisation 2011). The majority of the patients who start ART do so too late with low CD4 cell counts and opportunistic infections (Fairall et al. 2008; Keiser et al. 2008; Kigozi et al. 2009). As a result, mortality in the first "
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    ABSTRACT: Objectives  To assess the proportion of patients lost to programme (died, lost to follow-up, transferred out) between HIV diagnosis and start of antiretroviral therapy (ART) in sub-Saharan Africa, and determine factors associated with loss to programme. Methods  Systematic review and meta-analysis. We searched PubMed and EMBASE databases for studies in adults. Outcomes were the percentage of patients dying before starting ART, the percentage lost to follow-up, the percentage with a CD4 cell count, the distribution of first CD4 counts and the percentage of eligible patients starting ART. Data were combined using random-effects meta-analysis. Results  Twenty-nine studies from sub-Saharan Africa including 148 912 patients were analysed. Six studies covered the whole period from HIV diagnosis to ART start. Meta-analysis of these studies showed that of the 100 patients with a positive HIV test, 72 (95% CI 60-84) had a CD4 cell count measured, 40 (95% CI 26-55) were eligible for ART and 25 (95% CI 13-37) started ART. There was substantial heterogeneity between studies (P < 0.0001). Median CD4 cell count at presentation ranged from 154 to 274 cells/μl. Patients eligible for ART were less likely to become lost to programme (25%vs. 54%, P < 0.0001), but eligible patients were more likely to die (11%vs. 5%, P < 0.0001) than ineligible patients. Loss to programme was higher in men, in patients with low CD4 cell counts and low socio-economic status and in recent time periods. Conclusions  Monitoring and care in the pre-ART time period need improvement, with greater emphasis on patients not yet eligible for ART.
    Preview · Article · Sep 2012 · Tropical Medicine & International Health
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    • "PALSA PLUS was well-received and effective [13] in the Free State, but health managers remained concerned with the persistently high mortality among ART-eligible patients awaiting treatment and the chronic undersupply of physicians available to provide ART [14]. In 2005, the Department of Health asked for the incorporation of NIMART into its existing PALSA PLUS guidelines and training. "
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    ABSTRACT: Task-shifting is promoted widely as a mechanism for expanding antiretroviral treatment (ART) access. However, the evidence for nurse-initiated and managed ART (NIMART) in Africa is limited, and little is known about the key barriers and enablers to implementing NIMART programmes on a large scale. The STRETCH (Streamlining Tasks and Roles to Expand Treatment and Care for HIV) programme was a complex educational and organisational intervention implemented in the Free State Province of South Africa to enable nurses providing primary HIV/AIDS care to expand their roles and include aspects of care and treatment usually provided by physicians. STRETCH used a phased implementation approach and ART treatment guidelines tailored specifically to nurses. The effects of STRETCH on pre-ART mortality, ART provision, and the quality of HIV/ART care were evaluated through a randomised controlled trial. This study was conducted alongside the trial to develop a contextualised understanding of factors affecting the implementation of the programme. This study was a qualitative process evaluation using in-depth interviews and focus group discussions with patients, health workers, health managers, and other key informants as well as observation in clinics. Research questions focused on perceptions of STRETCH, changes in health provider roles, attitudes and patient relationships, and impact of the implementation context on trial outcomes. Data were analysed collaboratively by the research team using thematic analysis. NIMART appears to be highly acceptable among nurses, patients, and physicians. Managers and nurses expressed confidence in their ability to deliver ART successfully. This confidence developed slowly and unevenly, through a phased and well-supported approach that guided nurses through training, re-prescription, and initiation. The research also shows that NIMART changes the working and referral relationships between health staff, demands significant training and support, and faces workload and capacity constraints, and logistical and infrastructural challenges. Large-scale NIMART appears to be feasible and acceptable in the primary level public sector health services in South Africa. Successful implementation requires a comprehensive approach with: an incremental and well supported approach to implementation; clinical guidelines tailored to nurses; and significant health services reorganisation to accommodate the knock-on effects of shifts in practice. ISRCTN46836853.
    Full-text · Article · Jul 2012 · Implementation Science
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