High viral suppression and low attrition in healthy HIV-infected patients initiated on ART with CD4 above 500 cells/μL in a program setting in Uganda

  • Dathan M Byonanebye
  • Fred C Semitala
  • Jackson Katende
  • Alex Bakenga
  • Irene Arinaitwe
  • Peter Kyambadde
  • Patrick Musinguzi
  • Irene Andia Biraro
  • Pauline Byakika-Kibwika
  • Moses R Kamya
Keywords: Key populations; viral load; acquired immunodeficiency syndrome.


Background: The World Health Organization recommends antiretroviral therapy (ART) for all HIV-infected patients at all CD4 counts. However, there are concerns that asymptomatic patients may have poorer viral suppression and high attrition.

Objectives: We sought to determine attrition and viral suppression among healthy HIV-infected patients initiated on ART in program settings.

Methods: This cross-sectional study enrolled ART-experienced patients attending two PEPFAR-supported, high-volume clinics in Kampala, Uganda. Eligible patients were >18 years and had completed at least six months on ART. Participants were inter- viewed on socio-demographics, ART history and plasma viral load (VL) determined using Abbott Real-time. Predictors of viral suppression (<75 copies/ml) were determined using multivariate logistic regression.

Results: Overall, 267 participants were screened, 228 were eligible and 203 (89%) retained in care (visit within 90 days). Of the 203 participants, 115 (56.7%) were key-populations. Viral suppression was achieved in 173 patients (85%; 95% CI, 80.3%- 90.1%). The factors associated with viral suppression were prior VL tests (AOR 6.98; p-value <0.001) and receiving care from a general clinic (AOR 5.41; p=0.009).

Conclusion: Asymptomatic patients initiated on ART with high baseline CD4 counts, achieve high viral suppression with low risk of attrition. VL monitoring and clinic type are associated with viral suppression.

Keywords: Key populations; viral load; acquired immunodeficiency syndrome. 


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eISSN: 1680-6905