Objective: Cameroon has initiated a national programme of HIV care decentralization providing access to antiretroviral therapy (ART) for patients with CD4 cell counts less than 200 cells/μl or AIDS stage. Current clinical research suggests these criteria may be too stringent. This study aimed at evaluating the effect of not receiving ART on patients' psychosocial outcomes.
Design: The national cross-sectional survey EVAL (ANRS 12-116) collected psychosocial and clinical data for 3151 patients attending HIV services (September 2006 to March 2007).
Methods: Propensity score matching was used to control for demographic/clinical–immunological differences between patients receiving ART and those who did not. Generalized linear models were used to assess the impact, for different CD4 cell levels, of “not receiving” ART on health-related quality of life (HRQoL) inconsistent condom use with a sexual partner either serodiscordant or of unknown HIV status, self-reported symptoms and disclosure of HIV status to relatives or friends.
Results: Seventy-eight per cent of patients included in the survey were receiving ART. Non-treated patient breakdown was as follows: 8% (CD4<200 or AIDS stage), 5% (200≤CD4≤350) and 8% (CD4>350). In the multivariate matched-pairs analysis, impaired physical HRQoL, more frequent inconsistent condom use, more self-reported symptoms and less frequent disclosure of HIV status were all significantly associated (P < 0.0001) with not receiving ART, irrespective of the CD4 cell level.
Conclusion: In addition to increasing clinical effectiveness, earlier initiation of ART at less severe immune-depression levels than previously recommended by World Health Organization guidelines for low-resource settings may be justified for improving subjective health and positive prevention among people living with HIV.
aINSERM, U912 (SE4S), Marseille, France
bUniversité Aix Marseille, IRD, UMR-S912, Marseille, France
cORS PACA, Observatoire Régional de la Santé Provence Alpes Côte d'Azur, Marseille, France
dSocio-anthropological Research Institute (IRSA), Catholic University of Central African States, Yaoundé, Cameroon
eMinistry of Public Health, Division of Health Operations Research, Yaoundé, Cameroon
fFaculty of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, University of Yaoundé 1, Yaoundé, Cameroon.
Correspondence to Fabienne Marcellin, INSERM U912/ORS PACA, 23 rue Stanislas Torrents, 13006 Marseille, France. Tel: +33 4 96 10 28 79; fax: +33 4 96 10 28 99; e-mail: email@example.com