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Kroidl, Arne; Burger, Tassilo; Urio, Agatha; Mugeniwalwo, Roki; Mgaya, Jimson; Mlagalila, Faith; Hoelscher, Michael; Däumer, Martin; Salehe, Omar; Sangare, Anthony; Lennemann, Tessa and Maganga, Lucas (2020): High turnaround times and low viral resuppression rates after reinforced adherence counselling following a confirmed virological failure diagnostic algorithm in HIV‐infected patients on first‐line antiretroviral therapy from Tanzania. In: Tropical Medicine & International Health, Vol. 25, No. 5: pp. 579-589 [PDF, 265kB]


Objective Early identification of confirmed virological failure is paramount to avoid accumulation of drug resistance in patients on antiretroviral therapy (ART). Scale‐up of HIV‐RNA monitoring in Africa and timely switch to second‐line regimens are challenged.

Methods A WHO adapted confirmed virological treatment screening algorithm (HIV‐RNA screening, enhanced adherence counselling, confirmatory HIV‐RNA testing) was evaluated in HIV‐infected patients on first‐line ART from Tanzania. The main endpoints included viral resuppression and virological failure rates, retention and turnaround time of the screening algorithm until second‐line ART initiation. Secondary endpoints included risk factors for virological treatment failure and patterns of genotypic drug resistance.

Results HIV‐RNA >1000 copies/ml at first screening was detected in 58/356 (16.3%) patients (median time‐on‐treatment 6.3 years, 25% immunological treatment failure). Adjusted risk factors for virological failure were age <30 years (RR 5.2 [95% CI: 2.5–10.8]), years on ART ≥3 years (RR 3.0 [1.0–8.9]), CD4‐counts <200 cells/µl (RR 9.3 [4.0–21.8]) and poor self‐reported treatment adherence (RR 2.0 [1.2–3.4]). Resuppression of HIV‐RNA <1000 copies/ml was observed in 5/50 (10%) cases after enhanced adherence counselling. Confirmatory testing within 3 months was performed in only 46.6% and switch to second‐line ART within 6 months in 60.4% of patients. Major NNRTI‐mutation were detected in all of 30 patients, NRTI mutations in 96.7% and ≥3 thymidine‐analogue mutations in 40%. No remaining NRTI options were predicted in 57% and limited susceptibility in 23% of patients.

Conclusion We observed low levels of viral resuppression following adherence counselling, associated with high levels of accumulated drug resistance. High visit burden and turnaround times for confirmed virological failure diagnosis further delayed switching to second‐line treatment which could be improved using novel point‐of‐care viral load monitoring systems.

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