The objective of this study was to ascertain vital status of patients considered lost to follow-up at an HIV clinic in Guinea-Bissau, and describe reasons for loss to follow-up (LTFU).
This study was a cross-sectional sample of a prospective cohort, carried out between May 15, 2013, and January 31, 2014. Patients lost to follow-up, who lived within the area of the Bandim Health Project, a demographic surveillance site (DSS), were eligible for inclusion. Active follow-up was attempted by telephone and tracing by a field assistant. Semi-structured interviews were done face to face or by phone by a field assistant and patients were asked why they had not shown up for the scheduled appointment. Patients were included by date of HIV testing and risk factors for LTFU were assessed using Cox proportional hazard model.
Among 561 patients (69.5 % HIV-1, 18.0 % HIV-2 and 12.6 % HIV-1/2) living within the DSS, 292 patients had been lost to follow-up and were, therefore, eligible for active follow-up. Vital status was ascertained in 65.9 % of eligible patients and 42.7 % were alive, while 23.2 % had died. Information on reasons for LTFU existed for 103 patients. Major reasons were moving (29.1 %), travelling (17.5 %), and transferring to other clinics (11.7 %).
A large proportion of the patients at the clinic were lost to follow-up. The main reason for this was found to be the geographic mobility of the population in Guinea-Bissau.