Pre-treatment preparation and loss-to-care of adults living with HIV from an antiretroviral therapy clinic in Durban, KwaZulu-Natal.
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Introduction. The demand for comprehensive Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) and Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome (AIDS) services is greater than the available supply, particularly for the provision of antiretroviral therapy. The resulting bottleneck in service delivery has considerable implications for people living with HIV and for resource management. Aim. The purpose of this research was to investigate loss-to-care and associated variables of adult HIV-infected people who were eligible for antiretroviral therapy, from July 2004 to December 2007 at Sinikithemba HIV Clinic in Durban, KwaZulu-Natal. Methods. An observational descriptive and analytic cohort study design was used. Secondary data sourced from Sinikithemba were collated. All HIV-infected adults, 15 years and older when registered on the TrakCare database, who were eligible for antiretroviral therapy were included in the study. Data were extracted to describe the preparation of HIV infected adults who were eligible for antiretroviral therapy. Variables were first summarised and described before the confirmatory analytic steps were taken to measure associations at the p<0.05 significance level. Results. Of the 10 424 HIV-infected adults registered at Sinikithemba, 5470 (52%) were eligible for antiretroviral therapy from July 2004 to December 2007 and 2979 (54%) of these were lost to care prior to initiating antiretroviral therapy. Six exposure variables were significantly associated with this loss-to-care, (gender, baseline CD4 count, pre-eligibility care, antiretroviral therapy delay, preparation step and waiting time). These variables remained significantly associated with loss-to-care even after controlling for confounding with logistic regression. Discussion and Recommendations. With the rapid scale-up of antiretroviral therapy programmes, the outcome of those people living with HIV lost to care before commencing therapy have not been adequately documented. This large cohort enrolled over three-and-a-half years demonstrates that the loss-to-care prior to initiation of antiretroviral therapy is a significant problem that needs to be further investigated. Focusing retention strategies at the pre-antiretroviral therapy stage of HIV care will improve overall programme outcomes.