Excellent clinical outcomes and high retention in care among adults in a community-based HIV treatment program in rural Rwanda.

Rich ML, Miller AC, Niyigena P, Franke MF, Niyonzima JB, Socci A, Drobac PC, Hakizamungu M, Mayfield A, Ruhayisha R, Epino H, Stulac S, Cancedda C, Karamaga A, Niyonzima S, Yarbrough C, Fleming J, Amoroso C, Mukherjee J, Murray M, Farmer P, Binagwaho A.

J Acquir Immune Defic Syndr. 2012 Mar 1;59(3):e35-42. doi: 10.1097/QAI.0b013e31824476c4.

BACKGROUND: Access to antiretroviral therapy (ART) has rapidly expanded; as of the end of 2010, an estimated 6.6 million people are receiving ART in low-income and middle-income countries. Few reports have focused on the experiences of rural health centers or the use of community health workers. We report clinical and programatic outcomes at 24 months for a cohort of patients enrolled in a community-based ART program in southeastern Rwanda under collaboration between Partners In Health and the Rwandan Ministry of Health. METHODS AND FINDINGS: A retrospective medical record review was performed for a cohort of 1041 HIV+ adult patients initiating community-based ART between June 1, 2005, and April 30, 2006. Key programatic elements included free ART with direct observation by community health worker, tuberculosis screening and treatment, nutritional support, a transportation allowance, and social support. Among 1041 patients who initiated community-based ART, 961 (92.3%) were retained in care, 52 (5%) died and 28 (2.7%) were lost to follow-up. Median CD4 T-cell count increase was 336 cells per microliter [interquartile range: (IQR): 212-493] from median 190 cells per microliter (IQR: 116-270) at initiation. CONCLUSIONS: A program of intensive community-based treatment support for ART in rural Rwanda had excellent outcomes in 24-month retention in care. Having committed to improving access to HIV treatment in sub-Saharan Africa, the international community, including country HIV programs, should set high programmatic outcome benchmarks.

PMID: 22156912

From MEDLINE®/PubMed®, a database of the U.S. National Library of Medicine.