Research

Two-year viral load suppression among adolescents receiving antiretroviral therapy in the Cape Metropole, South Africa, 2013 - 2015: A retrospective cohort analysis

B E van Wyk, E Kriel, F Mukumbang

Abstract


Background. In 2018, 4% of all people living with HIV globally were adolescents aged 10 - 19 years. It is reported that adolescents on antiretroviral therapy (ART) are at increased risk of poor viral load suppression (VLS) compared with children and adults.

Objectives. To determine the 24-month prevalence of VLS among adolescents initiated on ART in 2013 in public health facilities in the Metro District Health Services of Western Cape Province, South Africa.

Methods. A retrospective cohort analysis was done on 220 adolescents initiated on ART in 2013; they were followed up for 24 months. Data were extracted from the provincial Tier.Net electronic database and patients’ clinical records, and captured in Excel. SPSS statistical software was used for descriptive and inferential analysis; bivariate analysis was used to determine significance and strength of associations between VLS and various sociodemographic and clinical characteristics at 4, 12 and 24 months (with significance set at p<0.05).

Results. VLS declined over the study period, with rates of 59.5%, 40.0% and 25.0% at 4, 12 and 24 months post initiation on treatment, respectively. In bivariate analysis, VLS was significantly associated with younger age (10 - 14 years) at month 12 (crude risk ratio (RR) 1.83 (95% confidence interval (CI) 1.35 - 2.49)) and month 24 (RR 3.38 (95% CI 2.24 - 5.10)) after initiation on ART. Male adolescents were significantly more likely to achieve VLS than females (month 4: RR 1.49 (95% CI 1.22 - 1.81); month 12: RR 1.50 (95% CI 1.07 - 2.12); and month 24: RR 2.33 (95% CI 1.50 - 3.62)). Pregnant adolescents were significantly less likely to attain VLS (month 4: RR 0.69 (95% CI 0.53 - 0.89); month 12: RR 0.64 (95% CI 0.44 - 0.94); and month 24: RR 0.24 (95% CI 0.11 - 0.50)) compared with those who were not pregnant. However, of those adolescents who were retained in care, VLS was higher at months 4, 12 and 24, with rates of 86.8%, 79.3% and 68.8%, respectively.

Conclusions. Targeted interventions are required to improve retention in care and VLS among adolescents on ART, with specific focus on older (15 - 19-year-olds) and pregnant adolescents.


Authors' affiliations

B E van Wyk, School of Public Health, Faculty of Community and Health Sciences, University of the Western Cape, Cape Town, South Africa

E Kriel, School of Public Health, Faculty of Community and Health Sciences, University of the Western Cape, Cape Town; and Department of Health, Western Cape Government, Cape Town, South Africa

F Mukumbang, School of Public Health, Faculty of Community and Health Sciences, University of the Western Cape, Cape Town, South Africa

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Keywords

HIV; AIDS; Treatment; Viral load suppression; Adolescents; Children; Retention

Cite this article

South African Medical Journal 2020;110(12):1213-1217. DOI:10.7196/SAMJ.2020.v110i12.14509

Article History

Date submitted: 2020-11-27
Date published: 2020-11-27

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