Author(s): Mossdorf E, Stoeckle M, Mwaigomole EG, Chiweka E, Kibatala PL, , Mossdorf E, Stoeckle M, Mwaigomole EG, Chiweka E, Kibatala PL,
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Abstract BACKGROUND: Data on combination antiretroviral therapy (cART) in remote rural African regions is increasing. METHODS: We assessed prospectively initial cART in HIV-infected adults treated from 2005 to 2008 at St. Francis Designated District Hospital, Ifakara, Tanzania. Adherence was assisted by personal adherence supporters. We estimated risk factors of death or loss to follow-up by Cox regression during the first 12 months of cART. RESULTS: Overall, 1,463 individuals initiated cART, which was nevirapine-based in 84.6\%. The median age was 40 years (IQR 34-47), 35.4\% were males, 7.6\% had proven tuberculosis. Median CD4 cell count was 131 cells/μl and 24.8\% had WHO stage 4. Median CD4 cell count increased by 61 and 130 cells/μl after 6 and 12 months, respectively. 215 (14.7\%) patients modified their treatment, mostly due to toxicity (56\%), in particular polyneuropathy and anemia. Overall, 129 patients died (8.8\%) and 189 (12.9\%) were lost to follow-up. In a multivariate analysis, low CD4 cells at starting cART were associated with poorer survival and loss to follow-up (HR 1.77, 95\% CI 1.15-2.75, p=0.009; for CD4<50 compared to >100 cells/μl). Higher weight was strongly associated with better survival (HR 0.63, 95\% CI 0.51-0.76, p<0.001 per 10 kg increase). CONCLUSIONS: cART initiation at higher CD4 cell counts and better general health condition reduces HIV related mortality in a rural African setting. Efforts must be made to promote earlier HIV diagnosis to start cART timely. More research is needed to evaluate effective strategies to follow cART at a peripheral level with limited technical possibilities.
This article was published in BMC Infect Dis
and referenced in Journal of AIDS & Clinical Research