Editorial Commentary: Viral Load Testing in Resource‐Limited Settings

Clinical Infectious Diseases (Impact Factor: 8.89). 02/2007; 44(1):139-40. DOI: 10.1086/510090
Source: PubMed

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    • "Considerable debate exists about how resource constraints should impact laboratory monitoring for HIV-infected patients on combination antiretroviral therapy (cART) [1-6]. This lack of consensus is reflected in the equivocal language about laboratory monitoring in 2010 recommendations by the World Health Organization (WHO) [7]. "
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    ABSTRACT: Updated World Health Organization guidelines have amplified debate about how resource constraints should impact monitoring strategies for HIV-infected persons on combination antiretroviral therapy (cART). We estimated the incremental benefit and cost effectiveness of alternative monitoring strategies for east Africans with known HIV infection. Using a validated HIV computer simulation based on resource-limited data (USAID and AMPATH) and circumstances (east Africa), we compared alternative monitoring strategies for HIV-infected persons newly started on cART. We evaluated clinical, immunologic and virologic monitoring strategies, including combinations and conditional logic (e.g., only perform virologic testing if immunologic testing is positive). We calculated incremental cost-effectiveness ratios (ICER) in units of cost per quality-adjusted life year (QALY), using a societal perspective and a lifetime horizon. Costs were measured in 2008 US dollars, and costs and benefits were discounted at 3%. We compared the ICER of monitoring strategies with those of other resource-constrained decisions, in particular earlier cART initiation (at CD4 counts of 350 cells/mm3 rather than 200 cells/mm3). Monitoring strategies employing routine CD4 testing without virologic testing never maximized health benefits, regardless of budget or societal willingness to pay for additional health benefits. Monitoring strategies employing virologic testing conditional upon particular CD4 results delivered the most benefit at willingness-to-pay levels similar to the cost of earlier cART initiation (approximately $2600/QALY). Monitoring strategies employing routine virologic testing alone only maximized health benefits at willingness-to-pay levels (> $4400/QALY) that greatly exceeded the ICER of earlier cART initiation. CD4 testing alone never maximized health benefits regardless of resource limitations. Programmes routinely performing virologic testing but deferring cART initiation may increase health benefits by reallocating monitoring resources towards earlier cART initiation.
    Full-text · Article · Jul 2011 · Journal of the International AIDS Society
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    ABSTRACT: To date, a minority of persons living with HIV worldwide has benefited from the advances in HIV therapeutics fueled by the scientific community, policy-makers, advocates, and the pharmaceutical industry in the global North. A growing body of evidence demonstrates that access to highly active antiretroviral therapy can be successfully scaled-up in less wealthy nations in the South. High rates of adherence correspond with clinical, immunologic, and virologic outcomes similar to those seen in wealthier nations. Recent reports of successful programs highlight the provision of free care, reliance on the international funding sources, and proactive adherence counseling. As access to antiretroviral therapy has improved, there is an urgent need to develop better strategies for initiating and monitoring therapy, including the scale-up of viral load testing.
    No preview · Article · Jun 2007 · Current HIV/AIDS Reports
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    ABSTRACT: Combination antiretroviral therapy (ART) has dramatically altered the prognosis of individuals infected with HIV. In the past 5 years there has been a concerted effort to increase access to ART in the developing world. The evidence to date suggests that adherence to therapy and clinical outcomes in developing world programmes are at least the equal of those observed in developed countries. Although access to first-line therapy is reasonably well established, there is a substantial and unacceptable mortality rate in the first 6 months after initiation of ART, particularly in those with low CD4 cell counts and late-stage disease. Failure of first-line ART is inevitable in a proportion of patients. Access to second-line ART regimens in developing countries is problematic, mainly because of the expense of HIV protease inhibitors (PIs). Access to second-line ART may be facilitated by novel strategies using the existing recommended agents or by the use of new agents or classes. Refinement of programmes in the developing world must be underpinned by the same rigorous scientific research effort that has characterized the success of the effort in the developed world. Therefore, the funding bodies responsible for the roll-out of antiretroviral access across the globe must mandate, incorporate and fund clinical research as an intrinsic aspect of combination ART roll-out programmes.
    No preview · Article · Aug 2007 · AIDS
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