Superior virologic and treatment outcomes: Comparison at 3 months and 6 months

Routine viral load (VL) monitoring is utilised to assess antiretroviral therapy (ART) adherence and virologic failure, and it is currently scaled-up in many resource-constrained settings. The first routine VL is recommended as late as six months after ART initiation for early detection of sub-optimal adherence. This study aims to assess the optimal timing of first VL measurement after initiation of ART. It is a retrospective, cohort analysis of routine monitoring data of adults enrolled at three primary care clinics in Khayelitsha, Cape Town, between January 2002 and March 2009. It was concluded that the first VL at three months rather than six months with targeted adherence interventions may improve long-term virologic suppression and reduce switches to costly second-line ART. ART programmes should consider the first VL measurement at three months after ART initiation.

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