Andreas D Haas, Elizabeth Radin, Avi J Hakim, Andreas Jahn, Neena M Philip, Sasi Jonnalagadda, Suzue Saito, Andrea Low, Hetal Patel, Amee M Schwitters, John H Rogers, Koen Frederix, Evelyn Kim, George Bello, Daniel B Williams, Bharat Parekh, Karampreet Sachathep, Danielle T Barradas, Thokozani Kalua, Sehin Birhanu, Godfrey Musuka, Owen Mugurungi, Beth A Tippett Barr, Katrina Sleeman, Lloyd B Mulenga, Kyaw Thin, Trong T Ao, Kristin Brown, Andrew C Voetsch, Jessica E Justman
Introduction: The global target for 2020 is that ≥90% of people living with HIV (PLHIV) receiving antiretroviral therapy (ART) will achieve viral load suppression (VLS). We examined VLS and its determinants among adults receiving ART for at least four months.
Methods: We analysed data from the population-based HIV impact assessment (PHIA) surveys in Eswatini, Lesotho, Malawi, Zambia and Zimbabwe (2015 to 2017). PHIA surveys are nationally representative, cross-sectional household surveys. Data collection included structured interviews, home-based HIV testing and laboratory testing. Blood samples from PLHIV were analysed for HIV RNA, CD4 counts and recent exposure to antiretroviral drugs (ARVs). We calculated representative estimates for the prevalence of VLS (viral load <1000 copies/mL), nonsuppressed viral load (NVL; viral load ≥1000 copies/mL), virologic failure (VF; ARVs present and viral load ≥1000 copies/mL), interrupted ART (ARVs absent and viral load ≥1000 copies/mL) and rates of switching to second-line ART (protease inhibitors present) among PLHIV aged 15 to 59 years who participated in the PHIA surveys in Eswatini, Lesotho, Malawi, Zambia and Zimbabwe, initiated ART at least four months before the survey and were receiving ART at the time of the survey (according to self-report or ARV testing). We calculated odds ratios and incidence rate ratios for factors associated with NVL, VF, interrupted ART, and switching to second-line ART.
Results: We included 9200 adults receiving ART of whom 88.8% had VLS and 11.2% had NVL including 8.2% who experienced VF and 3.0% who interrupted ART. Younger age, male sex, less education, suboptimal adherence, receiving nevirapine, HIV non-disclosure, never having married and residing in Zimbabwe, Lesotho or Zambia were associated with higher odds of NVL. Among people with NVL, marriage, female sex, shorter ART duration, higher CD4 count and alcohol use were associated with lower odds for VF and higher odds for interrupted ART. Many people with VF (44.8%) had CD4 counts <200 cells/µL, but few (0.31% per year) switched to second-line ART.
Conclusions: Countries are approaching global VLS targets for adults. Treatment support, in particular for younger adults, and people with higher CD4 counts, and switching of people to protease inhibitor- or integrase inhibitor-based regimens may further reduce NVL prevalence.