Background: Generalizable data are needed on the magnitude and determinants of adherence and virological suppression among patients on antiretroviral therapy (ART) in Africa.
Methods: We conducted a cross-sectional survey with chart abstraction, patient interviews and site assessments in a nationally representative sample of adults on ART for 6, 12 and 18 months at 20 sites in Rwanda. Adherence was assessed using 3- and 30-day patient recall. A systematically selected sub-sample had viral load (VL) measurements. Multivariable logistic regression examined predictors of non-perfect (<100%) 30-day adherence and detectable VL (>40 copies/ml).
Results: Overall, 1,417 adults were interviewed and 837 had VL measures. Ninety-four percent and 78% reported perfect adherence for the last 3 and 30 days, respectively. Eighty-three percent had undetectable VL. In adjusted models, characteristics independently associated with higher odds of non-perfect 30-day adherence were: being on ART for 18 months (vs. 6 months); younger age; reporting severe (vs. no or few) side effects in the prior 30 days; having no documentation of CD4 cell count at ART initiation (vs. having a CD4 cell count of <200 cells/µL); alcohol use; and attending sites which initiated ART services in 2003-2004 and 2005 (vs. 2006-2007); sites with ≥600 (vs. <600 patients) on ART; or sites with peer educators. Participation in an association for people living with HIV/AIDS; and receiving care at sites which regularly conduct home-visits were independently associated with lower odds of non-adherence. Higher odds of having a detectable VL were observed among patients at sites with peer educators. Being female; participating in an association for PLWHA; and using a reminder tool were independently associated with lower odds of having detectable VL.
Conclusions: High levels of adherence and viral suppression were observed in the Rwandan national ART program, and associated with potentially modifiable factors.