East African Medical Journal

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Risk factors of virologic failure and slow response to art among HIV-infected children and adolescents in Nairobi

J. M. Kabogo, S. Gupta, A. K. Maina, M. Ochwoto, R. W. Omange, R. N. Musoke, R. W. Lihana, E. Muniu, F. W. Wamunyokoli, B. Liang, E. M. Songok


Background: Antiretroviral therapy (ART) in resource-limited settings is effective when backed up with adequate clinical, immunological, and virologic monitoring. Undetected, virologic failure results in increased HIV-1 drug resistance mutations (DRMs), morbidity and mortality, or the need for costly second-line and third-line ART.
Objective: To evaluate the prevalence, patterns, and risk factors of virologic failure and slow response to ART, among children and adolescents in resource-limited settings in Nairobi, Kenya.
Design: A Retrospective study.
Setting: The 8 Lea Toto Programme (LTP) Clinics in Dagoretti, Dandora, Kangemi, Kariobangi, Kawangware, Kibera, Mukuru, and Zimmerman areas of Nairobi. Subjects: One hundred and forty-six HIV-infected children and adolescents aged 1 month to 19 years of the LTP in Nairobi Kenya. Medical and demographic data including, HIV-1 viral loads, information on adherence to ART, HIV-1 DRMs and other key determinants of virologic failure, collected over a period of 2 years, was used for this study.
Results: A threshold of 1,000 HIV RNA copies/ml was used to determine treatment outcome. The virologic failure rates in this cohort were 43.8% after 6 months, 32.2% after 12 months, 28.8% after 18 months, and 24.0% after 24 months of first-line ART. Twelve (8.2%) of 146 children showed a slow response to ART: they initially failed ART at 12 months, but had treatment success after 18 to 24 months. The rates of virologic rebound were 4 (2.7%) after 18 months and 3 (2.1%) after 24 months of ART. Multivariate Cox proportional hazards regression revealed that children with suboptimal adherence to ART were 37 times more likely to experience virologic failure (P = 0.000003).
Conclusions: This study showed that ART implementation in resource-limited settings is effective when regular virologic monitoring, adherence counselling, and HIV-DR testing are available. Secondly, adherence to ART is a strong predictor of treatment outcome for children and adolescents in resourcelimited settings. Therefore, methods of optimizing adherence levels should be explored and implemented.

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