Patient engagement in HIV care and treatment in Zambia, 2004-2014

Trop Med Int Health. 2017 Mar;22(3):332-339. doi: 10.1111/tmi.12832. Epub 2017 Jan 19.


Objective: To describe engagement along the HIV continuum of care using a large network of clinics in Zambia.

Methods: We employed a practical framework to describe retention along the HIV treatment cascade, using routinely collected clinical data available in resource-constrained settings. We included health facilities in four Zambian provinces with more than 300 enrolled patients over the age of 5 years. We described attrition at each step, from HIV enrolment to 720 days after ART initiation. The population was further stratified by year of enrolment to describe temporal trends in patient engagement.

Results: From January 2004 to December 2014, 444 439 individuals over the age of 5 years sought HIV care at 75 eligible health facilities. Among those enrolled into HIV care, 82.1% (95% confidence interval [CI]: 79.4-84.5%) were fully assessed for ART eligibility within 180 days of enrolment and 63.6% (95% CI: 61.7-65.3) were found to be eligible for ART based on the HIV treatment guidelines at the time. Of those patients eligible for ART, 81.1% (95% CI: 79.5-82.7%) initiated ART within 180 days. Patient retention in ART programme was 81.2% (95% CI: 80.4-81.9%) at 90 days, 70.0% (95% CI: 68.7-71.2%) at 360 days and 61.6% (95% CI: 60.0-63.2%) at 720 days. We noted a steady decline in proportions assessed for ART eligibility and deemed eligible for ART in the time frame. Proportions that started ART and remained in care remained relatively consistent.

Conclusion: We describe a simple approach for assessing patient engagement after enrolment into HIV care. Using limited types of data routinely available, we demonstrate an important and replicable approach to monitoring programmes in resource-constrained settings.

Keywords: Africa; HIV; Zambia; cascade; continuum of care; treatment.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Anti-HIV Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Continuity of Patient Care*
  • Female
  • HIV Infections / drug therapy*
  • Health Facilities*
  • Health Resources
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Patient Acceptance of Health Care
  • Patient Dropouts / statistics & numerical data*
  • Program Evaluation / methods
  • Zambia


  • Anti-HIV Agents