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Notes from the Field: Preliminary Results After Implementation of a Universal Treatment Program (Test and Start) for Persons Living with HIV Infection – Lesotho, October 2015-February 2017.

Notes from the Field: Preliminary Results After Implementation of a Universal Treatment Program (Test and Start) for Persons Living with HIV Infection – Lesotho, October 2015-February 2017.
Author Information (click to view)

Schwitters AM,


Schwitters AM, (click to view)

Schwitters AM,

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MMWR. Morbidity and mortality weekly report 2017 08 0466(30) 813-814 doi 10.15585/mmwr.mm6630a4

Abstract

Lesotho, a small, mountainous country completely surrounded by the Republic of South Africa, has a population of approximately 2 million persons with an estimated gross national income of $1,280 per capita; 73% of the population resides in rural areas (1). Lesotho has a generalized human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) epidemic (2). In 2014, the prevalence of HIV infection among persons aged 15-49 years was 24.6%, with an incidence of 1.9 new infections per 100 person-years of exposure (3). As the leading cause of premature death, HIV/AIDS (acquired immunodeficiency syndrome) has contributed to Lesotho’s reporting the shortest life expectancy at birth among 195 countries and territories (4). In 2015, antiretroviral therapy (ART) coverage among HIV-positive persons in Lesotho was estimated to be 42% (5). In April 2016, Lesotho became the first country in sub-Saharan Africa to adopt the World Health Organization (WHO) recommendations for universal initiation of antiretroviral therapy for all HIV-positive persons, regardless of CD4 count (known as the "Test and Start" program or approach), with nationwide implementation occurring in June 2016 (6,7). Before implementation of Test and Start, many persons living with HIV infection in Lesotho were not eligible to initiate treatment until their CD4 count was <500 cells/mm(3).

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