BMC Infect Dis 2019; 19: 312 (Journal)
Nsanzimana S., Semakula M., Ndahindwa V., Remera E., Sebuhoro D., Uwizihiwe J. P., Ford N., Tanner M., Kanters S., Mills E. J., Bucher H. C.
BACKGROUND: Currently, there is limited evidence on the effectiveness of second-line antiretroviral therapy (ART) in sub-Saharan Africa. To address this challenge, outcomes of second-line protease inhibitor (PI) based ART in Rwanda were assessed. METHODS: A two-stage cluster sampling design was undertaken. 49 of 340 health facilities linked to the open-source electronic medical record (EMR) system of Rwanda were randomly sampled. Data sampling criteria included adult HIV positive patients with documented change from first to second-line ART regimen. Retention in care and treatment failure (viral load above 1000 copies/mL) were evaluated using multivariable Cox proportional hazards and logistic regression models. RESULTS: A total of 1688 patients (60% females) initiated second-line ART PI-based regimen by 31st December 2016 with a median follow-up time of 26 months (IQR 24-36). Overall, 92.5% of patients were retained in care; 83% achieved VL </= 1000 copies/ml, 2.8% were lost to care and 2.2% died. Defaulting from care was associated with more recent initiation of ART- PI based regimen, CD4 cell count </=500 cells/mm(3) at initiation of second line ART and viral load > 1000 copies/ml at last measurement. Viral failure was associated with younger age, WHO stage III&IV at ART initiation, CD4 cell count </=500 cells/mm(3) at switch, atazanavir based second-line ART and receiving care at a health center compared to hospital settings. CONCLUSIONS: A high proportion of patients on second-line ART are doing relatively well in Rwanda and retained in care with low viral failure rates. However, enhanced understandings of adherence and adherence interventions for less healthy individuals are required. Routine viral load measurement and tracing of loss to follow-up is fundamental in resource limited settings, especially among less healthy patients.