Aim: Lighthouse Trust in Lilongwe, Malawi serves approximately 25,000 patients with HIV antiretroviral therapy (ART) regimens standardized according to national treatment guidelines. However, as a referral centre for complex cases, Lighthouse Trust occasionally treats patients with non-standard ART regimens (NS-ART) that deviate from the treatment guidelines. We evaluated factors contributing to the use of NS-ART and whether patients could transition to standard regimens.
Methods: This was a cross-sectional study of all adult patients at Lighthouse Trust being treated with NS-ART as of February 2012. Patients were identified using the electronic data system. Medical charts were reviewed and descriptive statistics were obtained.
Results: One hundred six patients were initially found being treated with NS-ART, and 92 adult patients were confirmed to be on NS-ART after review. Mean patient age was 42.4 ± 10.3 years, and 52 (57%) were female. Mean duration of treatment with the NS-ART being used at the time of data collection was 2.1 ± 1.5 years. Eight patients (9%) were on modified first-line NS-ART and 84 (91%) were on modified second-line NS-ART, with 90 patients (98%) having multiple factors contributing to NS-ART use. Severe toxicity from one medication contributed in 28 cases (30%) and toxicity from multiple medications contributed in 46 cases (50%), while 22 patients (24%) were transitioned to NS-ART following a stockout of their original medication. Following clinical review, 84 patients (91%) were transitioned to standard regimens, and eight (9%) were maintained on NS-ART because of incompatibility of their clinical features with the latest national guidelines.
Conclusions: Primary factors contributing to NS-ART use were medication toxicities and medication stockouts. Most patients were transitioned to standard regimens, although the need for NS-ART remains.