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Retention in care during the first 3 years of antiretroviral therapy for women in Malawi’s option B+ programme: an observational cohort study.

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Haas AD, Tenthani L, Msukwa MT, Tal K, Jahn A, Gadabu OJ, Spoerri A, Chimbwandira F, van Oosterhout JJ, Keiser O,


Haas AD, Tenthani L, Msukwa MT, Tal K, Jahn A, Gadabu OJ, Spoerri A, Chimbwandira F, van Oosterhout JJ, Keiser O, (click to view)

Haas AD, Tenthani L, Msukwa MT, Tal K, Jahn A, Gadabu OJ, Spoerri A, Chimbwandira F, van Oosterhout JJ, Keiser O,

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The lancet. HIV 2016 03 093(4) e175-82 doi 10.1016/S2352-3018(16)00008-4

Abstract
BACKGROUND
Studies of Malawi’s option B+ programme for HIV-positive pregnant and breastfeeding women have reported high loss to follow-up during pregnancy and at the start of antiretroviral therapy (ART), but few data exist about retention during breastfeeding and after weaning. We examined loss to follow-up and retention in care in patients in the option B+ programme during their first 3 years on ART.

METHODS
We analysed two data sources: aggregated facility-level data about patients in option B+ who started ART between Oct 1, 2011, and June 30, 2012, at 546 health facilities; and patient-level data from 20 large facilities with electronic medical record system for HIV-positive women who started ART between Sept 1, 2011, and Dec 31, 2013, under option B+ or because they had WHO clinical stages 3 or 4 disease or had CD4 counts of less than 350 cells per μL. We used facility-level data to calculate representative estimates of retention and loss to follow-up. We used patient-level data to study temporal trends in retention, timing of loss to follow-up, and predictors of no follow-up and loss to follow-up. We defined patients who were more than 60 days late for their first follow-up visit as having no follow-up and patients who were more than 60 days late for a subsequent visit as being lost to follow-up. We calculated proportions and cumulative probabilities of patients who had died, stopped ART, had no follow-up, were lost to follow-up, or were retained alive on ART for 36 months. We calculated odds ratios and hazard ratios to examine predictors of no follow-up and loss to follow-up.

FINDINGS
Analysis of facility-level data about patients in option B+ who had not transferred to a different facility showed retention in care to be 76·8% (20 475 of 26 658 patients) after 12 months, 70·8% (18 306 of 25 849 patients) after 24 months, and 69·7% (17 787 of 25 535 patients) after 36 months. Patient-level data included 29 145 patients. 14 630 (50·2%) began treatment under option B+. Patients in option B+ had a higher risk of having no follow-up and, for the first 2 years of ART, higher risk of loss to follow-up than did patients who started ART because they had CD4 counts less than 350 cells per μL or WHO clinical stage 3 or 4 disease. Risk of loss to follow-up during the third year was low and similar for patients retained for 2 years. Retention rates did not change as the option B+ programme matured.

INTERPRETATION
Our data suggest that pregnant and breastfeeding women who start ART immediately after they are diagnosed with HIV can be retained on ART through the option B+ programme, even after many have stopped breastfeeding. Interventions might be needed to improve retention in the first year on ART in option B+.

FUNDING
Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Partnerships for Enhanced Engagement in Research Health, and National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.

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