Trends in retention on antiretroviral therapy in national programs in low-income and middle-income countries

J Acquir Immune Defic Syndr. 2010 Aug;54(4):437-41. doi: 10.1097/QAI.0b013e3181d73e1b.


Objectives: To document regional and global trends for patients retained on antiretroviral therapy (ART) 12-48 months after treatment initiation, in low-income and middle-income countries.

Methods: Data reported by national programs to WHO/UNICEF/UNAIDS in 2008 were aggregated to produce regional and global estimates. The proportion of patients on ART at 12, 24, 36, and 48 months is derived from cohort monitoring systems in ART dispensing facilities.

Results: Of 149 countries, 70 (47%) reported on retention at 12 months, 54 (36%) at 24 months, 38 (26%) at 36 months, and 30 (20%) at 48 months. Regional and global trends showed that the majority of attrition from ART programs occurred within the first year and declined thereafter. Among countries in sub-Saharan Africa, retention on ART was estimated at 75.2% at 12 months, 66.8% at 24 months, and remained at a similar level up to 48 months.

Conclusions: After high attrition in the first year, retention on ART tends to stabilize. In the literature, attrition in the first year was related to early mortality. Earlier presentation for diagnosis of HIV infection, timely screening, and access to ART are fundamental to reduce it. Countries need support in reporting on outcomes on ART.

MeSH terms

  • Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome / economics
  • Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome / prevention & control*
  • Africa South of the Sahara
  • Anti-HIV Agents / economics*
  • Anti-HIV Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Antiretroviral Therapy, Highly Active / economics*
  • Asia
  • Caribbean Region
  • Europe
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Income
  • Middle East
  • Poverty
  • Time Factors


  • Anti-HIV Agents