The right combination – treatment outcomes among HIV-positive patients initiating first-line fixed-dose antiretroviral therapy in a public sector HIV clinic in Johannesburg, South Africa
Received 10 July 2017
Accepted for publication 8 September 2017
Published 18 December 2017 Volume 2018:10 Pages 17—29
Checked for plagiarism Yes
Review by Single-blind
Peer reviewers approved by Dr Colin Mak
Peer reviewer comments 2
Editor who approved publication: Professor Henrik Toft Sorensen
Kamban Hirasen,1 Denise Evans,1 Mhairi Maskew,1 Ian M Sanne,1–3 Kate Shearer,1 Caroline Govathson,1 Given Malete,1 Sheryl A Kluberg,4 Matthew P Fox1,4,5
1Health Economics and Epidemiology Research Office, Department of Internal Medicine, School of Clinical Medicine, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa; 2Right to Care, Johannesburg, South Africa; 3Clinical HIV Research Unit, Department of Internal Medicine, School of Clinical Medicine, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa; 4Department of Global Health, Boston University School of Public Health, Boston, MA, USA; 5Department of Epidemiology, Boston University School of Public Health, Boston, MA, USA
Background: Long-term antiretroviral therapy (ART) adherence is critical for achieving optimal HIV treatment outcomes. Fixed-dose combination (FDC) single-pill regimens, introduced in South Africa in April 2013, has simplified pill taking. We evaluated treatment outcomes among patients initiated on a FDC compared to a similar multi-pill ART regimen in Johannesburg, South Africa.
Methods: We conducted a retrospective cohort study of ART-naïve HIV-positive non-pregnant adult (≥18 years) patients without tuberculosis who initiated first-line ART on tenofovir and emtricitabine or lamivudine with efavirenz at Themba Lethu Clinic in Johannesburg, South Africa. We compared those initiated on a multi-pill ART regimen (3–5 pills/day; September 1, 2011–August 31, 2012) to those initiated on a FDC ART regimen (one pill/day; September 1, 2013–August 31, 2014). Treatment outcomes included attrition (combination of lost to follow-up and mortality), missed medical visits, and virologic suppression (viral load <400 copies/mL) by 12 months post-ART initiation. Cox proportional hazards models and Poisson regression were used to estimate the association between FDCs vs multiple pills and treatment outcomes.
Results: We included 3151 patients in our analysis; 2230 (70.8%) patients initiated multi-pill ART and 921 (29.2%) patients initiated on a FDC. By 12 months post-initiation, attrition (adjusted hazard ratio: 0.98; 95% CI: 0.77–1.24) was similar across regimen types (FDC vs multi-pill). Although not significant, patients on a FDC were marginally more likely to achieve viral suppression by 6 (adjusted relative rate [aRR]: 1.10; 95% CI: 0.99–1.23) and 12 months (aRR: 1.12; 95% CI: 0.92–1.36) on ART. Patients initiated on a FDC were significantly less likely to miss medical visits during the first 12 months of treatment (aRR: 0.66; 95% CI: 0.52–0.83).
Conclusion: Our results suggest FDCs may have a role to play in supporting patient adherence and medical monitoring through improved medical visit attendance. This may potentially improve treatment outcomes later on in treatment.
Keywords: antiretroviral therapy, fixed-dose combination, attrition, virologic suppression, adherence, South Africa
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