Initiation of antiretroviral therapy and viral suppression after home HIV testing and counselling in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa, and Mabarara district, Uganda: a prospective, observational intervention study

SOURCE: The Lancet HIV
OUTPUT TYPE: Journal Article
TITLE AUTHOR(S): R.V.Barnabas, H.Van Rooyen, E.Tumwesigye, P.M.Murnane, J.M.Baeten, H.Humphries, B.Turyamureeba, P.Joseph, M.Krows, J.P.Hughes, C.Celum
DEPARTMENT: Human and Social Capabilities (HSC)
Print: HSRC Library: shelf number 8430
HANDLE: 20.500.11910/2183

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Antiretroviral therapy significantly decreases HIV-associated morbidity, mortality, and HIV transmission through HIV viral load suppression. In settings of high prevalence, outreach strategies are needed to find asymptomatic HIV-positive people, to link them to HIV care, to initiate antiretroviral therapy, and to achieve viral suppression. We aimed to assess the effect of a community-based strategy of HIV testing and counselling (HTC) and linkage to care in households. We did an uncontrolled prospective intervention study in 1600 households in two rural communities in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa, and Mbabara district, Uganda, between Sept 27, 2011, and May 6, 2013. The intervention consisted of home HTC and, for HIV-positive people, point-of-care CD4 count testing, referral to care, and follow-up visits by lay counsellors, including the off er of couples HTC. We identifi ed 3545 adults in 1549 households in the two communities. 3393 adults (96%) were enrolled and tested for HIV, of whom 635 (19%) were HIV positive. At baseline, 229 (36%) HIV-positive people were newly identifi ed, 406 (64%) were previously known to be HIV positive, and 254 (40%) were taking antiretroviral therapy. By month 12, 619 (97%) HIV-positive people had visited an HIV clinic, and of 123 participants eligible for antiretroviral therapy, 94 (76%) had initiated antiretroviral therapy by 12 months. Of the 77 participants on antiretroviral therapy by month 9, 59 (77%) achieved viral suppression by month 12. Among all HIV-positive people, the number with viral suppression (<1000 copies per mL) increased from 287 (50%) to 370 (65%; p<0.0001) at 12 months. There were no reported cases of study-related social harm during the study. Community-based HTC in rural South Africa and Uganda achieved high coverage of testing and linkage to care. Among people eligible for antiretroviral therapy, a high proportion initiated antiretroviral therapy and achieved viral suppression, suggesting high adherence. Our results could be generalisable to other southern African countries with a high burden of HIV, but pilot studies would be useful in other settings before initiation of clinical trials to estimate the effectiveness and cost-effectiveness of the intervention.