Quality improvement approach for increasing linkage to HIV care and treatment among newly-diagnosed HIV-infected persons in Kenyan urban informal settlements during 2011–2015
Background: Pre-enrollment loss to follow-up and delayed linkage to HIV care and treatment (C&T) of newly-diagnosed HIV-infected individuals are associated with increased morbidity and mortality.
Objective: To describe quality improvement approach utilized by Eastern Deanery AIDS Relief Program (EDARP) to increase linkage to HIV C&T of newly-diagnosed HIV-infected individuals.
Design: Cross-sectional descriptive assessement of a three-phased continuous quality improvement (CQI) project among 20,972 newly diagnosed HIV patients at 14 EDARP health facilities in Nairobi, Kenya. Phase 1 – physically escorting patients to the HIV C&T clinic; Phase 2 – use of linkage registers and timely tracking and tracing individuals who missed appointments; Phase 3 – use of patient HIV literacy materials. Routine patient data collected during the CQI interventions implemented between October 2011 and September 2015 were analyzed.
Results: Implementation of the three CQI phases significantly increased linkage to HIV C&T from 60% at baseline in 2011 to 98% in 2015 (p<0.0001). Factors associated with decreased linkage to HIV C&T through this CQI intervention were: age (adolescents aged 10–19 years), [odds ratio (OR) 0.60, 95% confidence interval (CI): 0.51-7.0]; female sex [OR 0.64, (95% CI: 0.59-0.70)] and unemployement [OR 0.84, (95% CI: 0.77-0.92)]. First time tester [OR 1.9, (95% CI: 1.8-2.1)] and divorcees [OR 2.0, (95% CI: 1.7-2.3)], (p<0.001) had increased likelihood of linkage to HIV C&T.
Conclusion: Successful linkage to HIV C&T services for newly-diagnosed HIV-infected individuals is achievable through adoption of feasible and low-cost multi-pronged CQI interventions.