Time from HIV diagnosis to commencement of antiretroviral therapy as an indicator to supplement the HIV cascade: Dramatic fall from 2011 to 2015Report as inadecuate




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Introduction

The HIV care cascade is increasingly used to evaluate HIV treatment programs at the population level. However, the cascade indicators lack the ability to show changes over time, which reduces their utility to guide health policy. Alternatives have been proposed but are complex or result in a delay in results. We propose a new indicator of ART uptake, the time from HIV diagnosis to commencement of ART, and compare it to the existing cascade indicator of proportion of patients on treatment and the WHO proposed cohort cascade indicator of proportion of patients on treatment within one year of diagnosis.

Methods and materials

Records from patients from the two largest HIV treatment centres in the state of Victoria, Australia Melbourne Sexual Health Centre and The Alfred Hospital Department of Infectious Diseases from 2011 to 2015 were extracted. The intervals between date of diagnosis, entry into care and initiation of ART were compared.

Results and discussion

From 2011 to 2015 the proportion of in-care patients who were on ART rose from 87% to 93% p<0.0001. From 2011 to 2014, the proportion of patients in care and on ART within one year of diagnosis increased from 43.4% to 78.9% p = 0.001. The median time from diagnosis to ART fell from 418 days IQR: 91–1176 to 77 days IQR: 39–290p<0.001 by calendar year in which ART was commenced.

Conclusions

From 2011 to 2015 there were substantial and clinically important falls in the median time from diagnosis to commencing ART in those that commenced ART. The size of this dramatic change was not apparent when only reporting the proportion of patients on ART. Time to ART is a useful indicator and can be used to supplement existing cascade indicators in measuring progress toward universal ART coverage.



Author: Nicholas A. Medland , Eric P. F. Chow, James H. McMahon , Julian H. Elliott , Jennifer F. Hoy , Christopher K. Fairley

Source: http://plos.srce.hr/



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