Zerbe, A., Brittain, K., Phillips, T. K., Iyun, V. O., Allerton, J., Nofemela, A., Kalombo, C. D., Myer, L., & Abrams, E. J. (2020).
BMC health services research, 20(1), 621. https://doi.org/10.1186/s12913-020-05470-5
Background: With an increasing number of countries implementing Option B+ guidelines of lifelong antiretroviral therapy (ART) for all pregnant and breastfeeding women, there is urgent need to identify effective approaches for retaining this growing and highly vulnerable population in ART care.
Methods: Newly postpartum, breastfeeding women who initiated ART in pregnancy and met eligibility criteria were enrolled, and offered the choice of two options for postpartum ART care: (i) referral to existing network of community-based adherence clubs or (ii) referral to local primary health care clinic (PHC). Women were followed at study measurement visits conducted separately from either service. Primary outcome was a composite endpoint of retention in ART services and viral suppression [VS < 50 copies/mL based on viral load (VL) testing at measurement visits] at 12 months postpartum. Outcomes were compared across postpartum services using chi-square, Fisher’s exact tests and Poisson regression models. The primary outcome was compared across services where women were receiving care at 12 months postpartum in exploratory analyses.
Results: Between February and September 2015, 129 women (median age: 28.9 years; median time postpartum: 10 days) were enrolled with 65% opting to receive postpartum HIV care through an adherence club. Among 110 women retained at study measurement visits, 91 (83%) achieved the composite endpoint, with no difference between those who originally chose clubs versus those who chose PHC services. Movement from an adherence club to PHC services was common: 31% of women who originally chose clubs and were engaged in care at 12 months postpartum were attending a PHC service. Further, levels of VS differed significantly by where women were accessing ART care at 12 months postpartum, regardless of initial choice: 98% of women receiving care in an adherence club and 76% receiving care at PHC had VS < 50 copies/mL at 12 months postpartum (p = 0.001).
Conclusion: This study found comparable outcomes related to retention and VS at 12 months postpartum between women choosing adherence clubs and those choosing PHC. However, movement between postpartum services among those who originally chose adherence clubs was common, with poorer VS outcomes among women leaving clubs and returning to PHC services.