CD4 testing at clinics to assess eligibility for Antiretroviral therapy

  • R Lumala
  • T van den Akker
  • CA Metcalf
  • E Diggle
  • B Zamadenga
  • K Mbewa
  • A Akkeson

Abstract

Background
In 2011, the Ministry of Health raised the CD4 threshold for antiretroviral therapy (ART) eligibility from <250 cells/μl and <350 cells/μl, but at the same time only 8.8% of facilities in Malawi with HIV services provided CD4 testing. We conducted a record review at 10 rural clinics in Thyolo District to assess the impact of introducing CD4 testing on identifying patients eligible for ART.
Methods:
We abstracted CD4 counts of all ART-naïve, HIV-infected patients with WHO clinical stages 1 and 2 and an initial CD4 test between May 2008 and June 2009. At four clinics, we also abstracted CD4 counts of patients not initially eligible for ART who were retested before April 2010.
Results
Of 1,113 patients tested, the initial CD4 was “≤250 cells/μl” and “≤350 cells/μl” in 534 (48.0%). Of 203 patients with follow-up results, the most recent CD4 was ≤250 cells/μl in 34 (24.5%), and ≤350 cells/μl in 64 (46.0%).
Conclusions
CD4 testing in rural clinics is feasible and identifies many patients eligible for ART who would not be identified without CD4 testing. CD4 testing needs to be scaled-up to identify patients eligible for ART. ART services need to be scaled-up concurrently to meet the resulting increased demand.
Section
Articles

Journal Identifiers


eISSN: 1995-7262
print ISSN: 1995-7262