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Atanga, Pascal N.; Ndetan, Harrison T.; Achidi, Eric A.; Meriki, Henry D.; Hoelscher, Michael; Kroidl, Arne (2017): Retention in care and reasons for discontinuation of lifelong antiretroviral therapy in a cohort of Cameroonian pregnant and breastfeeding HIV-positive women initiating "Option B plus ' in the South West Region. In: Tropical Medicine & international Health, Vol. 22, No. 2: pp. 161-170
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OBJECTIVE To assess linkage and retention in care along the PMTCT cascade in HIV-positive pregnant and breastfeeding women initiating Option B+ in Cameroon. METHODS We prospectively determined uptake of HIV testing and counselling (HTC), uptake of ART and retention in care after Option B+ initiation between October 2013 and December 2014 in pregnant and breastfeeding women from five sites within the Kumba Health District. Retention in care was assessed over at least 12 months follow-up and estimated by Kaplan-Meier analysis. During follow-up, tracing outcomes and reasons for discontinuing treatment were documented. RESULTS The uptake of HTC of 5813 women with unknown HIV status was 98.5%, 251 (4.4%) were newly diagnosed HIV positive, and ART uptake in women eligible to start Option B+ was 96.8%. We enrolled 268 women initiating lifelong ART in the follow-up. Overall, 65 (24.3%) discontinued treatment, either defined by loss to follow-up (44.6%) or actively stopped treatment (55.8%). Retention in care was 88.0% and 81.1% at 6 and 12 months, respectively. Discontinuation was significantly associated in multivariate analysis with small sites and high staff turnover [aOR 2.5 (95% CI 1.6, 3.9), P < 0.001]. Main reasons for stopping treatment were HIV status denial and stigma (52.8%), religious reasons (25.0%) and lack of transport fare (11.1%). CONCLUSION We observed good uptake of HTC, ART and retention in care, which declined over time. Discontinuation of Option B+ was highest at small sites with a high staff turnover. Improved staffing, adequate task shifting and community interventions to track defaulters including reducing stigma and religious beliefs may improve Option B+ retention.