About 60% of HIV-positive people in sub-Saharan Africa who begin treatment with antiretroviral drugs still are taking the drugs after two years, according to a study published Monday in PLoS Medicine, the AP/Los Angeles Times reports.
For the study -- led by Sydney Rosen, an assistant professor at Boston University's School of Public Health -- researchers examined 32 publications that reported on 74,192 people living with HIV/AIDS in 13 countries in sub-Saharan Africa between 2000 and 2007. The study found that 40% of the people who stopped treatment had died.
The rest of the patients who stopped treatment missed scheduled medical appointments, failed to pick up medication or transferred to other clinics. In addition, a small percentage of people stopped treatment with antiretrovirals but continued to receive medical care at the same clinic where they began treatment.
According to the researchers, there are several possible reasons for the study's findings. Many patients' HIV was so far advanced when they began treatment that they died within a few months, the researchers found. Some people stopped treatment because they were unable to find transportation to clinics or were unable to afford antiretrovirals, according to the study.
The study also found that success rates varied by program and country. One program in South Africa retained about 85% of people after two years, compared with a retention rate of 46% at a clinic in Uganda. The World Health Organization estimates that antiretroviral treatment programs in Western countries retain about 80% of people after two years.
Source: Kaiser Family Foundation