The objective was to determine the proportion, characteristics and outcomes of patients who transfer-out from an antiretroviral therapy (ART) service in a South African township.
This retrospective cohort study included all patients aged ≥15 years who enrolled between September 2002 and December 2009. Follow-up data were censored in December 2010. Kaplan-Meier survival analysis was used to describe time to transfer-out and cox proportional hazard analysis was used to determine associated risk factors.
4511 patients (4003 ART-naive and 508 non-naive at baseline) received ART during the study period. Overall, 597 (13.2%) transferred out. The probability of transferring out by one year of ART steadily increased from 1.4% in 2002/2004 cohort to 8.9% for the 2009 cohort. Independent risk factors for transfer-out were more recent calendar year of enrolment, younger age (≤25 years) and being ART non-naive at baseline (i.e., having previously transferred into this clinic from another facility). The proportions of patients transferred out who had a CD4 cell count
The study concluded that with scale-up of ART over time, an increasing proportion of patients are transferring between ART services and information systems are needed to track patients. Approximately one-fifth of these have viral loads >1000 copies/mL around the time of transfer, suggesting the need for careful adherence counseling and assessment of medication supplies among those planning transfer.
Nglazi, MD.; Kaplan, R.; Orrell, C.; Myer, L.; Wood, R.; Bekker, LG.; Lawn, SD. Increasing Transfers-Out from an Antiretroviral Treatment Service in South Africa: Patient Characteristics and Rates of Virological Non-Suppression. PLoS ONE (2013) 8 (3) e57907. [DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0057907]