The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends universal antiretroviral therapy (ART) for persons living with HIV (PLWH), but evidence about effects of expanded ART access on ART retention in low-resource settings is limited.
Haiti's Ministry of Health endorsed universal ART for pregnant women in March 2013 (Option B+) and for all PLWH in July 2016. This study included 51,579 ART patients from 2011 to 2017 at 94 hospitals and clinics in Haiti.
This observational, retrospective cohort study described time trends in 6-month ART retention using secondary data, and compared results during 3 periods using an interrupted time series model: pre-Option B+ (period 1: 1/11–2/13), Option B+ (period 2: 3/13–6/16), and Test and Start (T&S, period 3: 7/16–9/17).
From the pre-Option B+ to the T&S period, the monthly count of new ART patients increased from 366/month to 877/month, and the proportion with same-day ART increased from 6.3% to 42.1% (P < 0.001). The proportion retained on ART after 6 months declined from 78.4% to 75.0% (P < 0.001). In the interrupted time series model, ART retention improved by a rate of 1.4% per quarter during the T&S period after adjusting for patient characteristics (adjusted incidence rate ratio = 1.014; 95% confidence interval: 1.002 to 1.026, P < 0.001). However, patients with same-day ART were 14% less likely to be retained compared to those starting ART >30 days after HIV diagnosis (adjusted incidence rate ratio = 0.86; 95% confidence interval: 0.84–0.89, P < 0.001).
Achieving targets for HIV epidemic control will require increasing ART retention and reducing the disparity in retention for those with same-day ART.