Expectations about future health and longevity are important determinants of individuals' decisions to invest in physical and human capital. Few population-level studies have measured subjective expectations and examined how they are affected by scale-up of antiretroviral therapy (ART). We assessed these expectations in communities receiving annual HIV testing and universal ART. Longitudinal data on expectations were collected at baseline and one year later in 16 intervention communities participating in the Sustainable East Africa Research in Community Health (SEARCH) trial of the test and treat strategy in Kenya and Uganda (NCT01864603). A random sample of households with and without an HIV-positive adult was selected after baseline HIV testing. Individuals' expectations about survival to 50, 60, 70, and 80 years of age, as well as future health status and economic well-being, were measured using a Likert scale. Primary outcomes were binary variables indicating participants who reported being very likely or almost certain to survive to advanced ages. Logistic regression analyses were used to examine trends in expectations as well as associations with HIV status and viral load for HIV-positive individuals. Data were obtained from 3126 adults at baseline and 3977 adults in year 1, with 2926 adults participating in both waves. HIV-negative adults were more likely to have favorable expectations about survival to 60 years than HIV-positive adults with detectable viral load (adjusted odds ratio [AOR] 1.87, 95% CI 1.53-2.30), as were HIV-positive adults with undetectable viral load (AOR 1.41, 95% CI 1.13-1.77). Favorable expectations about survival to 60 years were more likely for all groups in year 1 compared to baseline (AOR 1.53, 95% CI 1.31-1.77). These findings are consistent with the hypothesis that universal ART leads to improved population-level expectations about future health and well-being. Future research from the SEARCH trial will help determine whether these changes are causally driven by the provision of universal ART.
Keywords: Antiretroviral therapy; health expectations; subjective life expectancy; test and treat.