HIV Testing and Treatment with the Use of a Community Health Approach in Rural Africa

Abstract [from journal]

Background: Universal antiretroviral therapy (ART) with annual population testing and a multidisease, patient-centered strategy could reduce new human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infections and improve community health.

Methods: We randomly assigned 32 rural communities in Uganda and Kenya to baseline HIV and multidisease testing and national guideline-restricted ART (control group) or to baseline testing plus annual testing, eligibility for universal ART, and patient-centered care (intervention group). The primary end point was the cumulative incidence of HIV infection at 3 years. Secondary end points included viral suppression, death, tuberculosis, hypertension control, and the change in the annual incidence of HIV infection (which was evaluated in the intervention group only).

Results: A total of 150,395 persons were included in the analyses. Population-level viral suppression among 15,399 HIV-infected persons was 42% at baseline and was higher in the intervention group than in the control group at 3 years (79% vs. 68%; relative prevalence, 1.15; 95% confidence interval [CI], 1.11 to 1.20). The annual incidence of HIV infection in the intervention group decreased by 32% over 3 years (from 0.43 to 0.31 cases per 100 person-years; relative rate, 0.68; 95% CI, 0.56 to 0.84). However, the 3-year cumulative incidence (704 incident HIV infections) did not differ significantly between the intervention group and the control group (0.77% and 0.81%, respectively; relative risk, 0.95; 95% CI, 0.77 to 1.17). Among HIV-infected persons, the risk of death by year 3 was 3% in the intervention group and 4% in the control group (0.99 vs. 1.29 deaths per 100 person-years; relative risk, 0.77; 95% CI, 0.64 to 0.93). The risk of HIV-associated tuberculosis or death by year 3 among HIV-infected persons was 4% in the intervention group and 5% in the control group (1.19 vs. 1.50 events per 100 person-years; relative risk, 0.79; 95% CI, 0.67 to 0.94). At 3 years, 47% of adults with hypertension in the intervention group and 37% in the control group had hypertension control (relative prevalence, 1.26; 95% CI, 1.15 to 1.39).

Conclusions: Universal HIV treatment did not result in a significantly lower incidence of HIV infection than standard care, probably owing to the availability of comprehensive baseline HIV testing and the rapid expansion of ART eligibility in the control group.