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Impact of "test and treat" recommendations on eligibility for antiretroviral treatment: Cross sectional population survey data from three high HIV prevalence countries

  • 2018/11/26
Type of publication
  • Articles
  • Chihana ML;Huerga H;Van Cutsem G;Ellman T;Wanjala S;Masiku C;Szumilin E;Etard JF;Davies MA;Maman D
  • HIV
Latest WHO guidelines recommend starting HIV-positive individuals on antiretroviral therapy treatment (ART) regardless of CD4 count. We assessed additional impact of adopting new WHO guidelines.
We used data of individuals aged 15-59 years from three HIV population surveys conducted in 2012 (Kenya) and 2013 (Malawi and South Africa). Individuals were interviewed at home followed by rapid HIV and CD4 testing if tested HIV-positive. HIV-positive individuals were classified as "eligible for ART" if (i) had ever been initiated on ART or (ii) were not yet on ART but met the criteria for starting ART based on country's guidelines at the time of the survey (Kenya-CD4< = 350 cells/μl and WHO Stage 3 or 4 disease, Malawi as for Kenya plus lifelong ART for all pregnant and breastfeeding women, South Africa as for Kenya plus ART for pregnant and breastfeeding women until cessation of breastfeeding).
Of 18,991 individuals who tested, 4,113 (21.7%) were HIV-positive. Using country's ART eligibility guidelines at the time of the survey, the proportion of HIV-infected individuals eligible for ART was 60.0% (95% CI: 57.2-62.7) (Kenya), 73.4% (70.8-75.8) (South Africa) and 80.1% (77.3-82.6) (Malawi). Applying WHO 2013 guidelines (eligibility at CD4< = 500 and Option B+ for pregnant and breastfeeding women), the proportions eligible were 82.0% (79.8-84.1) (Kenya), 83.7% (81.5-85.6) (South Africa) and 87.6% (85.0-89.8) (Malawi). Adopting "test and treat" would mean a further 18.0% HIV-positive individuals (Kenya), 16.3% (South Africa) and 12.4% (Malawi) would become eligible. In all countries, about 20% of adolescents (aged 15-19 years), became eligible for ART moving from WHO 2013 to "test and treat" while no differences by sex were observed.
Countries that have already implemented 2013 WHO recommendations, the burden of implementing "test and treat" would be small. Youth friendly programmes to help adolescents access and adhere to treatment will be needed.