Retention in care amongst women initiated on antiretroviral therapy during pregnancy at King Sobhuza II Public Health Unit, Swaziland
Makwindi, Chrispen Christopher
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Background: The advent of antiretroviral therapy (ART) has significantly redefined the course of the HIV pandemic making HIV, a chronic illness rather than a death sentence. To maximize the efficacy of ART in improving survival rates of HIV/AIDS patients, lowering the incidence of opportunistic infections, reducing HIV transmission and minimizing the possibilities of developing drug resistance, long-term retention in care is critical. In South Africa, poor retention in care of 32% has been noted in women who were initiated on ART during pregnancy as compared to 13% in non-pregnant women initiated on ART. However, little is known in Swaziland about the retention in care in women who were initiated on ART during pregnancy and the factors that influence retention in care among this category of women. Aim: To determine the factors associated with poor retention in care among women initiated on ART during pregnancy at King Sobhuza II Public Health Unit (PHU) in Swaziland. Methodology: A quantitative, retrospective cohort review of 316 medical records of women who were initiated on ART during pregnancy from January 2012 to December 2013 was conducted. A data extraction sheet was used to collect data from the files of patients who were initiated on ART during pregnancy. The dataset was imported into IBM SPSS Statistic 20 Software for analysis. Bi-variate analysis was done to determine risk factors associated with retention in ART care at ART initiation and on the last ART refill visit. Kaplan-Meier analysis was used to determine retention in care at 6, 12, 24 and 36 months. Cox proportional hazards models were then used to determine factors associated with poor retention. Results: The overall retention rate of women who were initiated on ART during pregnancy at the PHU after a median duration on ART of 25.80 months [interquartile range (IQR): 16.70 – 30.98] of follow up was 74.1% (n=316). Most women initiated on ART during pregnancy (52.4%) became lost to follow up after giving birth as compared to 47.6% who became lost to follow up before giving birth. After 6 months on ART, the lost to follow up rate was 16.5% (n=316); but increased to 20.9% (n=316), 23.5% (n=243) and 26.9% (n=52) after 12, 24 and 36 months respectively. On the ART initiation visit, the factors associated with retention in care for pregnant women included being married, having the partner on ART, disclosing one’s HIV status to the partner, not drinking alcohol, being a non-smoker and reporting no financial challenges. In addition, on the last ART refill visit, the risk factors for retention in care for women initiated on ART during pregnancy were having the ART regimen changed, having regular CD4 cell count done, rise in CD4 cell count, good adherence on ART and use of contraceptive other than the condom for family planning after delivery. Conclusion: The retention in care for women who were initiated on ART during pregnancy was found to be lower than in the general adult population. However, the study findings on retention in care are similar to what has been found in other settings. The factors influencing poor retention also mirror those found in the other parts of sub-Saharan Africa. Whilst decentralisation of ART services improves ART coverage it should be coupled with strategies aimed at improving patient retention.