Drug Side Effects and Retention on HIV Treatment: a Regression Discontinuity Study of Tenofovir Implementation in South Africa and Zambia.

Brennan, Alana T; Bor, Jacob; Davies, Mary-Ann; Wandeler, Gilles; Prozesky, Hans; Fatti, Geoffrey; Wood, Robin; Stinson, Kathryn; Tanser, Frank; Bärnighausen, Till; Boulle, Andrew; Sikazwe, Izukanji; Zanolini, Arianna; Fox, Matthew P (2018). Drug Side Effects and Retention on HIV Treatment: a Regression Discontinuity Study of Tenofovir Implementation in South Africa and Zambia. American journal of epidemiology, 187(9), pp. 1990-2001. Oxford University Press 10.1093/aje/kwy093

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Tenofovir is less toxic than other nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitors used in antiretroviral therapy (ART) and may improve retention of HIV-infected patients on ART. We assessed the impact of national guideline changes in South Africa (2010) and Zambia (2007) recommending tenofovir in first-line ART. We applied regression discontinuity in a prospective cohort of 52,294 HIV-infected adults initiating first-line ART within ±12-months of each guideline change. We compared outcomes in patients presenting just before/after the guideline changes using local linear regression and estimated intention-to-treat effects on initiation of tenofovir, retention in care, and other treatment outcomes at 24-months. We assessed complier causal effects among patients starting tenofovir. The new guidelines increased the percentage of patients initiating tenofovir in South Africa (risk difference (RD): 81%; 95% confidence interval (CI): 73, 89) and Zambia (RD: 42%; 95% CI: 38, 45). With the guideline change, single-drug substitutions decreased substantially in South Africa (RD: -15%; 95% CI:-18, -12). Starting tenofovir also reduced attrition in Zambia (intent-to-treat RD: -1.8%; 95% CI: -3.5, -0.1, complier relative risk = 0.74) but not in South Africa (RD: -0.9%; 95% CI: -5.9, 4.1, Complier Relative Risk = 0.94). These results highlight the importance of reducing side effects for increasing retention in care, as well as the differences in population impact of policies with heterogeneous treatment effects implemented in different contexts.

Item Type:

Journal Article (Original Article)


04 Faculty of Medicine > Pre-clinic Human Medicine > Institute of Social and Preventive Medicine (ISPM)
04 Faculty of Medicine > Department of Haematology, Oncology, Infectious Diseases, Laboratory Medicine and Hospital Pharmacy (DOLS) > Clinic of Infectiology

UniBE Contributor:

Wandeler, Gilles


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




Oxford University Press




Annelies Luginbühl

Date Deposited:

19 Jul 2018 12:31

Last Modified:

30 Oct 2019 19:47

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