Retention and mortality on antiretroviral therapy in sub-Saharan Africa: collaborative analyses of HIV treatment programmes.

Haas, Andreas D; Zaniewski, Elizabeth; Anderegg, Nanina; Ford, Nathan; Fox, Matthew P; Vinikoor, Michael; Dabis, François; Nash, Denis; Sinayobye, Jean d'Amour; Niyongabo, Thêodore; Tanon, Aristophane; Poda, Armel; Adedimeji, Adebola A; Edmonds, Andrew; Davies, Mary-Ann; Egger, Matthias; International epidemiologic Databases to Evaluate AIDS (IeDEA), African regions of the (2018). Retention and mortality on antiretroviral therapy in sub-Saharan Africa: collaborative analyses of HIV treatment programmes. Journal of the International AIDS Society, 21(2), e25084. BioMed Central 10.1002/jia2.25084

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By 2020, 90% of all people diagnosed with HIV should receive long-term combination antiretroviral therapy (ART). In sub-Saharan Africa, this target is threatened by loss to follow-up in ART programmes. The proportion of people retained on ART long-term cannot be easily determined, because individuals classified as lost to follow-up, may have self-transferred to another HIV treatment programme, or may have died. We describe retention on ART in sub-Saharan Africa, first based on observed data as recorded in the clinic databases, and second adjusted for undocumented deaths and self-transfers.


We analysed data from HIV-infected adults and children initiating ART between 2009 and 2014 at a sub-Saharan African HIV treatment programme participating in the International epidemiology Databases to Evaluate AIDS (IeDEA). We used the Kaplan-Meier method to calculate the cumulative incidence of retention on ART and the Aalen-Johansen method to calculate the cumulative incidences of death, loss to follow-up, and stopping ART. We used inverse probability weighting to adjust clinic data for undocumented mortality and self-transfer, based on estimates from a recent systematic review and meta-analysis.


We included 505,634 patients: 12,848 (2.5%) from Central Africa, 109,233 (21.6%) from East Africa, 347,343 (68.7%) from Southern Africa and 36,210 (7.2%) from West Africa. In crude analyses of observed clinic data, 52.1% of patients were retained on ART, 41.8% were lost to follow-up and 6.0% had died 5 years after ART initiation. After accounting for undocumented deaths and self-transfers, we estimated that 66.6% of patients were retained on ART, 18.8% had stopped ART and 14.7% had died at 5 years.


Improving long-term retention on ART will be crucial to attaining the 90% on ART target. Naïve analyses of HIV cohort studies, which do not account for undocumented mortality and self-transfer of patients, may severely underestimate both mortality and retention on ART.

Item Type:

Journal Article (Original Article)


04 Faculty of Medicine > Pre-clinic Human Medicine > Institute of Social and Preventive Medicine (ISPM)

Graduate School:

Graduate School for Cellular and Biomedical Sciences (GCB)

UniBE Contributor:

Haas, Andreas, Zaniewski, Anne Elizabeth, Anderegg, Nanina Tamar, Egger, Matthias


600 Technology > 610 Medicine & health
300 Social sciences, sociology & anthropology > 360 Social problems & social services




BioMed Central




Tanya Karrer

Date Deposited:

08 Mar 2018 22:26

Last Modified:

05 Dec 2022 15:11

Publisher DOI:


PubMed ID:


Uncontrolled Keywords:

antiretroviral therapy loss to follow-up mortality retention sub-Saharan Africa




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