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Johannesburg, South Africa

Faal M.,University of Witwatersrand | Naidoo N.,University of Witwatersrand | Glencross D.K.,University of Witwatersrand | Glencross D.K.,National Laboratory Health Service | And 2 more authors.
Journal of Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndromes

Background: In South Africa, CD4 count results are typically available within a week of testing. However, 35%-55% of newly diagnosed HIV-positive patients do not return for their CD4 results and therefore, do not access further care. We evaluated the impact of a CD4 count result and patient written information provided immediately after diagnosis on retention in care. Methods: HIV-infected subjects were randomized to 3 arms; receipt of a CD4 result at time of HIV diagnosis, receipt of written information, and standard of care (CD4 collection after 1 week) or standard of care alone. The outcome of interest was enrollment for further care within 1 month for pre-antiretroviral therapy (ART) care or within 3 months for ART initiation. Secondary outcome was time taken from diagnosis to each stage of care pathway. Independent predictors of retention were assessed with multivariate analysis. Results: Three hundred forty-four patients recruited, of which 64.5% were females with a median age of 30 years (interquartile range: 27-35). Subjects were similar in age, gender, CD4 count, education, and employment status. Providing CD4 results at HIV diagnosis increases the likelihood of reporting for ART initiation (risk ratio = 2.1; 95% confidence interval = 1.39 to 3.17) compared with standard of care. Written information only reduced the time to presentation for pre-ART care although increasing age was associated with retention. There was 49% attrition in the standard of care arms. Conclusions: Receipt of a CD4 count at the time of HIV testing increases ART initiation rates. Point-of-care diagnostics can be used to improve retention, but losses to pre-ART care remain high. © 2011 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins. Source

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