Objective: To analyse the early loss of patients to antiretroviral therapy (ART) programmes in resource-limited settings. Methods: Using data on 5491 adult patients starting ART (median age 35 years, 46% female) in 15 treatment programmes in Africa, Asia and South America with ≥ 12 months of follow-up, we investigated risk factors for no follow-up after treatment initiation, and loss to follow-up or death in the first 6 months. Findings: Overall, 211 patients (3.8%) had no follow-up, 880 (16.0%) were lost to follow-up and 141 (2.6%) were known to have died in the first 6 months. The probability of no follow-up was higher in 2003-2004 than in 2000 or earlier (odds ratio, OR: 5.06; 95% confidence interval, CI: 1.28-20.0), as was loss to follow-up (hazard ratio, HR: 7.62; 95% CI: 4.55-12.8) but not recorded death (HR: 1.02; 95% CI: 0.44-2.36). Compared with a baseline CD4-cell count ≥ 50 cells/μl, a count < 25 cells/μl was associated with a higher probability of no follow-up (OR: 2.49; 95% CI: 1.43-4.33), loss to follow-up (HR: 1.48; 95% CI: 1.23-1.77) and death (HR: 3.34; 95% CI: 2.10-5.30). Compared to free treatment, fee-for-service programmes were associated with a higher probability of no follow-up (OR: 3.71; 95% CI: 0.97-16.05) and higher mortality (HR: 4.64; 95% CI: 1.11-19.41). Conclusion: Early patient losses were increasingly common when programmes were scaled up and were associated with a fee for service and advanced immunodeficiency at baseline. Measures to maximize ART programme retention are required in resource-poor countries.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health