Author(s): Habtegiorgis A, Gebreyesus S, Mulugeta E
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Abstract Ethiopia is one of the countries affected severely by the HIV/AIDS epidemic in sub-Saharan Africa. The disease is gradually fatal without antiretroviral therapy (ARV). The experience with antiretroviral therapy is limited in this country. This study is the first of its kind that has evaluated the status and implication of the clinical use of ARV drugs in Ethiopia. The guidelines for the initiation of treatment, the strengths and weaknesses of such treatment and the implications of similar intervention in a wider scale were assessed. Clinical records of 33 patients under follow-up and treatment with ARV in Hayat Hospital and Bethezatha Medical Center were identified. Data were collected from the medical records using a tool designed for the purpose. All 33 patients were receiving ARV for a mean duration of about 4 months. Twenty- three (69.7\%) were males and 10 (30.3\%) were females and the mean age was 38 years. Fifteen (45.5\%) were married, fourteen (40.7\%) were single, one (3\%) divorced and there was no record for three (9.1\%). Fifteen (45.5\%) were businessmen, seven (21.2\%) were private employees, four (12.1\%) civil servants and in the remaining seven (21.2\%) their occupation was not recorded. The decision to initiate ARV therapy was entirely based on the presence of symptomatic HIV disease. CD4+ lymphocyte count was done in 24 (72.7\%) and basic hematological tests were done for all. However, biochemical investigations were incomplete in all of them. Triple therapy was started for all patients and the cost of the drugs was covered by their family in eleven (33.3\%), by the patients in twenty-two (66.7\%). Side effects of the drugs were noted in ten (30.3\%) that resulted in change of the regimen in two and drug interruption in one. Response to treatment was entirely based on clinical parameters only. Twenty-three patients (69.7\%) were noted to improve while nine (27.3\%) remained the same and death occurred in one (3\%). Standard triple therapy was used in all patients in this study and symptomatic HIV disease was the reason for the initiation of treatment. The improvement observed was not substantiated by immunological or virological parameters. Thus, the impacts of ARVs cannot be measured and the response documented in this study can be due to the effective treatment of opportunistic infections. Hence a standard protocol should be developed based on the minimum set-up required for the initiation of ARV therapy.
This article was published in Ethiop Med J
and referenced in Journal of Antivirals & Antiretrovirals