VIBRA trial - Effect of village-based refill of ART following home-based same-day ART initiation vs clinic-based ART refill on viral suppression among individuals living with HIV: protocol of a cluster-randomized clinical trial in rural Lesotho

Trials. 2019 Aug 22;20(1):522. doi: 10.1186/s13063-019-3510-5.


Background: There is a need for evaluating community-based antiretroviral therapy (ART) delivery models to improve overall performance of HIV programs, specifically in populations that may have difficulties to access continuous care. This cluster-randomized clinical trial aims to evaluate the effectiveness of a multicomponent differentiated ART delivery model (VIBRA model) after home-based same-day ART initiation in remote villages in Lesotho, southern Africa.

Methods/design: The VIBRA trial (VIllage-Based Refill of ART) is a cluster-randomized parallel-group superiority clinical trial conducted in two districts in Lesotho, southern Africa. Clusters (i.e., villages) are randomly assigned to either the VIBRA model or standard care. The clusters are stratified by district, village size, and village access to the nearest health facility. Eligible individuals (HIV-positive, aged 10 years or older, and not taking ART) identified during community-based HIV testing campaigns are offered same-day home-based ART initiation. The intervention clusters offer a differentiated ART delivery package with two features: (1) drug refills and follow-ups by trained and supervised village health workers (VHWs) and (2) the option of receiving individually tailored adherence reminders and notifications of viral load results via SMS. The control clusters will continue to receive standard care, i.e., collecting ART refills from a clinic and no SMS notifications. The primary endpoint is viral suppression 12 months after enrolment. Secondary endpoints include linkage to and engagement in care. Furthermore, safety and cost-effectiveness analyses plus qualitative research are planned. The minimum target sample size is 262 participants. The statistical analyses will follow the CONSORT guidelines. The VIBRA trial is linked to another trial, the HOSENG (HOme-based SElf-testiNG) trial, both of which are within the GET ON (GETing tOwards Ninety) research project.

Discussion: The VIBRA trial is among the first to evaluate the delivery of ART by VHWs immediately after ART initiation. It assesses the entire HIV care cascade from testing to viral suppression. As most countries in sub-Saharan Africa have cadres like the VHW program in Lesotho, this model-if shown to be effective-has the potential to be scaled up. The system impact evaluation will provide valuable cost estimations, and the qualitative research will suggest how the model could be further modified to optimize its impact.

Trial registration:, NCT03630549 . Registered on 15 August 2018.

Keywords: HIV; Lesotho; Southern Africa; antiretroviral therapy; cluster randomized controlled trial; community health worker; differentiated care and delivery; home-based; multi component intervention; village health worker.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial Protocol

MeSH terms

  • Anti-HIV Agents / adverse effects
  • Anti-HIV Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Delivery of Health Care / organization & administration*
  • Drug Prescriptions
  • Equivalence Trials as Topic
  • HIV / drug effects*
  • HIV / growth & development
  • HIV Infections / diagnosis
  • HIV Infections / drug therapy*
  • HIV Infections / virology
  • Humans
  • Lesotho
  • Medication Adherence*
  • Multicenter Studies as Topic
  • Rural Health Services / organization & administration*
  • Time Factors
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Viral Load


  • Anti-HIV Agents

Associated data