State of the ART: clinical efficacy and improved quality of life in the public antiretroviral therapy program, Free State province, South AfricaState of the ART: clinical efficacy and improved quality of life in the public antiretroviral therapy program, Free State province, South Africa
Faculty of Social Sciences. Sociology
Research Centre for Longitudinal and Life Course Studies (CELLO)
Centre for Sociology of Law
Aidscare. - Abingdon, 1995, currens
21(2009):11, p. 1401-1411
University of Antwerp
The South African public-sector antiretroviral treatment (ART) program has yielded promising early results. To extend and reinforce these preliminary findings, we undertook a detailed assessment of the clinical efficacy and outcomes over two years of ART. The primary objective was to assess the clinical outcomes and adverse effects of two years of ART, while identifying the possible effects of baseline health and patient characteristics. A secondary objective was to address the interplay between positive and negative outcomes (clinical benefits versus adverse effects) in terms of the patients' physical and emotional quality of life (QoL). Clinical outcome, baseline characteristics, health status, and physical and emotional QoL scores were determined from clinical files and interviews with 268 patients enrolled in the Free State ART program at three time points (6, 12, and 24 months of ART). Age, sex, education, and baseline health (CD4 cell count and viral load) were all independently associated with the ART outcome in the early stages of treatment, but their impact diminished as the treatment progressed. The number of patients classified as treatment successes increased over the first two years of ART, whereas the proportion of patients experiencing adverse effects diminished. Importantly, our findings show that ART had strong and stable positive effects on physical and emotional QoL. These favorable results demonstrate that a well-managed public-sector ART program can be very successful within a high-HIV-prevalence resource-limited setting. This finding emphasizes the need to adopt treatment scale-up as a key policy priority, while at the same time ensuring that the highest standards of healthcare provision are maintained. Healthcare services should also target vulnerable groups (males, less-educated patients, those with low baseline CD4 cell counts, and high baseline viral loads) who are most likely to experience treatment failure.