Attrition Rates in HIV Viral Load Monitoring and Factors Associated With Overdue Testing Among Children Within South Africa's Antiretroviral Treatment Program: Retrospective Descriptive Analysis.

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    • Source:
      Publisher: JMIR Publications Country of Publication: Canada NLM ID: 101669345 Publication Model: Electronic Cited Medium: Internet ISSN: 2369-2960 (Electronic) Linking ISSN: 23692960 NLM ISO Abbreviation: JMIR Public Health Surveill Subsets: MEDLINE
    • Publication Information:
      Original Publication: Toronto : JMIR Publications, [2015]-
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    • Abstract:
      Background: Numerous studies in South Africa have reported low HIV viral load (VL) suppression and high attrition rates within the pediatric HIV treatment program.
      Objective: Using routine laboratory data, we evaluated HIV VL monitoring, including mobility and overdue VL (OVL) testing, within 5 priority districts in South Africa.
      Methods: We performed a retrospective descriptive analysis of National Health Laboratory Service (NHLS) data for children and adolescents aged 1-15 years having undergone HIV VL testing between May 1, 2019, and April 30, 2020, from 152 facilities within the City of Johannesburg, City of Tshwane, eThekwini, uMgungundlovu, and Zululand. HIV VL test-level data were deduplicated to patient-level data using the NHLS CDW (Corporate Data Warehouse) probabilistic record-linking algorithm and then further manually deduplicated. An OVL was defined as no subsequent VL determined within 18 months of the last test. Variables associated with the last VL test, including age, sex, VL findings, district type, and facility type, are described. A multivariate logistic regression analysis was performed to identify variables associated with an OVL test.
      Results: Among 21,338 children and adolescents aged 1-15 years who had an HIV VL test, 72.70% (n=15,512) had a follow-up VL test within 18 months. Furthermore, 13.33% (n=2194) of them were followed up at a different facility, of whom 3.79% (n=624) were in a different district and 1.71% (n=281) were in a different province. Among patients with a VL of ≥1000 RNA copies/mL of plasma, the median time to subsequent testing was 6 (IQR 4-10) months. The younger the age of the patient, the greater the proportion with an OVL, ranging from a peak of 52% among 1-year-olds to a trough of 21% among 14-year-olds. On multivariate analysis, 2 consecutive HIV VL findings of ≥1000 RNA copies/mL of plasma were associated with an increased adjusted odds ratio (AOR) of having an OVL (AOR 2.07, 95% CI 1.71-2.51). Conversely, patients examined at a hospital (AOR 0.86, 95% CI 0.77-0.96), those with ≥2 previous tests (AOR 0.78, 95% CI 0.70-0.86), those examined in a rural district (AOR 0.63, 95% CI 0.54-0.73), and older age groups of 5-9 years (AOR 0.56, 95% CI 0.47-0.65) and 10-14 years (AOR 0.51, 95% CI 0.44-0.59) compared to 1-4 years were associated with a significantly decreased odds of having an OVL test.
      Conclusions: Considerable attrition occurs within South Africa's pediatric HIV treatment program, with over one-fourth of children having an OVL test 18 months subsequent to their previous test. In particular, younger children and those with virological failure were found to be at increased risk of having an OVL test. Improved HIV VL monitoring is essential for improving outcomes within South Africa's pediatric antiretroviral treatment program.
      (©Ahmad Haeri Mazanderani, Lebohang Radebe, Gayle G Sherman. Originally published in JMIR Public Health and Surveillance (, 14.05.2024.)
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    • Contributed Indexing:
      Keywords: HIV; South Africa; VL test; adolescent; attrition; big data; child; descriptive analysis; infant; laboratory data; monitoring; overdue; paediatric; pediatric; retention; sexual transmission; sexually transmitted; suppression; viral load; virological failure; youth
    • Publication Date:
      Date Created: 20240514 Date Completed: 20240514 Latest Revision: 20240531
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