Retention of HIV-infected children in the first 12 months of anti-retroviral therapy and predictors of attrition in resource limited settings: A systematic review


Current UNAIDS goals aimed to end the AIDS epidemic set out to ensure that 90% of all people living with HIV know their status, 90% initiate and continue life-long anti-retroviral therapy (ART), and 90% achieve viral load suppression. In 2014 there were an estimated 2.6 million children under 15 years of age living with HIV, of which only one-third were receiving ART. Little literature exists describing retention of HIV-infected children in the first year on ART. We conducted a systematic search for English language publications reporting on retention of children with median age at ART initiation less than ten years in resource limited settings. The proportion of children retained in care on ART and predictors of attrition were identified. Twelve studies documented retention at one year ranging from 71-95% amongst 31877 African children. Among the 5558 children not retained, 4082 (73%) were reported as lost to follow up (LFU) and 1476 (27%) were confirmed to have died. No studies confirmed the outcomes of children LFU. Predictors of attrition included younger age, shorter duration of time on ART, and severe immunosuppression. In conclusion, significant attrition occurs in children in the first 12 months after ART initiation, the majority attributed to LFU, although true outcomes of children labeled as LFU are unknown. Focused efforts to ensure retention and minimize early mortality are needed as universal ART for children is scaled up.


Abuogi LL, Smith C, McFarland EJ.




  • Population(s)
    • Children or Youth (less than 18 years old)
  • Engagement and Care Cascade
    • Treatment
  • Health Systems
    • Delivery arrangements


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