Exploring Estimates and Reasons for Lost to Follow-Up Among People Living With HIV on Antiretroviral Therapy in Kisumu County, Kenya

J Acquir Immune Defic Syndr. 2022 Jun 1;90(2):146-153. doi: 10.1097/QAI.0000000000002942.


Background: A better understanding why people living with HIV (PLHIV) become lost to follow-up (LTFU) and determining who is LTFU in a program setting is needed to attain HIV epidemic control.

Setting: This retrospective cross-sectional study used an evidence-sampling approach to select health facilities and LTFU patients from a large HIV program supporting 61 health facilities in Kisumu County, Kenya.

Methods: Eligible PLHIV included adults 18 years and older with at least 1 clinic visit between September 1, 2016, and August 31, 2018, and were LTFU (no clinical contact for ≥90 days after their last expected clinic visit). From March to June 2019, demographic and clinical variables were collected from a sample of LTFU patient files at 12 health facilities. Patient care status and retention outcomes were determined through program tracing.

Results: Of 787 LTFU patients selected and traced, 36% were male, median age was 30.5 years (interquartile range: 24.6-38.0), and 78% had their vital status confirmed with 560 (92%) alive and 52 (8%) deceased. Among 499 (89.0%) with a retention outcome, 233 (46.7%) had stopped care while 266 (53.3%) had self-transferred to another facility. Among those who had stopped care, psychosocial reasons were most common {65.2% [95% confidence interval (CI): 58.9 to 71.1]} followed by structural reasons [29.6% (95% CI: 24.1 to 35.8)] and clinic-based reasons [3.0% (95% CI: 1.4 to 6.2)].

Conclusion: We found that more than half of patients LTFU were receiving HIV care elsewhere, leading to a higher overall patient retention rate than routinely reported. Similar strategies could be considered to improve the accuracy of reporting retention in HIV care.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Ambulatory Care Facilities
  • Anti-HIV Agents* / therapeutic use
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Female
  • HIV Infections* / drug therapy
  • HIV Infections* / epidemiology
  • Humans
  • Kenya / epidemiology
  • Lost to Follow-Up
  • Male
  • Retrospective Studies


  • Anti-HIV Agents