Background: High attrition during the period from HIV testing to antiretroviral therapy (ART) initiation is widely reported. Though treatment guidelines have changed to broaden ART eligibility and services have been widely expanded over the past decade, data on the temporal trends in pre-ART outcomes are limited; such data would be useful to guide future policy decisions.
Methods: We evaluated temporal trends and predictors of retention for each step from HIV testing to ART initiation over the past decade at the GHESKIO clinic in Port-au-Prince Haiti. The 24,925 patients >17 years of age who received a positive HIV test at GHESKIO from March 1, 2003 to February 28, 2013 were included. Patients were followed until they remained in pre-ART care for one year or initiated ART.
Results: 24,925 patients (61% female, median age 35 years) were included, and 15,008 (60%) had blood drawn for CD4 count within 12 months of HIV testing; the trend increased over time from 36% in Year 1 to 78% in Year 10 (p<0.0001). Excluding transfers, the proportion of patients who were retained in pre-ART care or initiated ART within the first year after HIV testing was 84%, 82%, 64%, and 64%, for CD4 count strata ≤200, 201 to 350, 351 to 500, and >500 cells/mm3, respectively. The trend increased over time for each CD4 strata, and in Year 10, 94%, 95%, 79%, and 74% were retained in pre-ART care or initiated ART for each CD4 strata. Predictors of pre-ART attrition included male gender, low income, and low educational status. Older age and tuberculosis (TB) at HIV testing were associated with retention in care.
Conclusions: The proportion of patients completing assessments for ART eligibility, remaining in pre-ART care, and initiating ART have increased over the last decade across all CD4 count strata, particularly among patients with CD4 count ≤350 cells/mm3. However, additional retention efforts are needed for patients with higher CD4 counts.