Firth's Logistic Regression of Interruption in Treatment before and after the Onset of COVID-19 among People Living with HIV on ART in Two Provinces of DRC

Healthcare (Basel). 2022 Aug 12;10(8):1516. doi: 10.3390/healthcare10081516.


The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic extends beyond the immediate physical effects of the virus, including service adjustments for people living with the human immunodeficiency virus (PLHIV) on antiretroviral therapy (ART). Purpose: To compare treatment interruptions in the year immediately pre-COVID-19 and after the onset of COVID-19 (10 April 2020 to 30 March 2021). Methods: We analyze quantitative data covering 36,585 persons with HIV who initiated antiretroviral treatment (ART) between 1 April 2019 and 30 March 2021 at 313 HIV/AIDS care clinics in the Haut-Katanga and Kinshasa provinces of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), using Firth’s logistic regression. Results: Treatment interruption occurs in 0.9% of clients and tuberculosis (TB) is detected in 1.1% of clients. The odds of treatment interruption are significantly higher (adjusted odds ratio: 12.5; 95% confidence interval, CI (8.5−18.3)) in the pre-COVID-19 period compared to during COVID-19. The odds of treatment interruption are also higher for clients with TB, those receiving ART at urban clinics, those younger than 15 years old, and female clients (p < 0.05). Conclusions: The clients receiving ART from HIV clinics in two provinces of DRC had a lower risk of treatment interruption during COVID-19 than the year before COVID-19, attributable to program adjustments.

Keywords: COVID-19; Democratic Republic of Congo; Firth’s logistic regression; antiretroviral therapy (ART); people living with HIV; treatment interruptions.