Risk factors for sustained virological non-suppression among children and adolescents living with HIV in Zimbabwe and Malawi: a secondary data analysis

BMC Pediatr. 2022 Jun 11;22(1):340. doi: 10.1186/s12887-022-03400-4.


Background: We investigated risk factors for sustained virological non-suppression (viral load ≥ 1000 copies/ml on two tests 48 weeks apart) among children and adolescents accessing HIV care in public sector clinics in Harare, Zimbabwe and Blantyre, Malawi.

Methods: Participants were enrolled between 2016 and 2019, were aged 6-19 years, living with HIV, had chronic lung disease (FEV z-score < -1) and had taken antiretroviral therapy (ART) for at least six months. We used multivariate logistic regression to identify risk factors for virological non-suppression after 48 weeks, among participants who were non-suppressed at enrolment.

Results: At enrolment 258 participants (64.6%) were on first-line ART and 152/347 (43.8%) had virological non-suppression. After 48 weeks 114/313 (36.4%) were non-suppressed. Participants non-suppressed at baseline had almost ten times higher odds of non-suppression at follow-up (OR = 9.9, 95%CI 5.3-18.4, p < 0.001). Of those who were non-suppressed at enrolment, 87/136 (64.0%) were still non-suppressed at 48 weeks. Among this group non-suppression at 48 weeks was associated with not switching ART regimen (adjusted OR = 5.55; 95%CI 1.41-21.83); p = 0.014) and with older age. Twelve participants switched regimen in Zimbabwe and none in Malawi.

Conclusions: Viral non-suppression was high among this group and many with high viral load were not switched to a new regimen, resulting in continued non-suppression after 48 weeks. Further research could determine whether improved adherence counselling and training clinicians on regimen switches can improve viral suppression rates in this population.

Trial registration: Secondary cohort analysis of data from BREATHE trial (Clinicaltrials.gov NCT02426112 ).

Keywords: Adolescent; Antiretroviral therapy; Chronic lung disease; HIV viral load; Resistance; Viral non-suppression.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Anti-HIV Agents* / therapeutic use
  • Child
  • Data Analysis
  • HIV Infections* / drug therapy
  • HIV Infections* / epidemiology
  • Humans
  • Malawi / epidemiology
  • Risk Factors
  • Viral Load
  • Zimbabwe / epidemiology


  • Anti-HIV Agents

Associated data

  • ClinicalTrials.gov/NCT02426112