Same-day ART initiation, loss to follow-up and viral load suppression among people living with HIV in low- and middle-income countries: Systematic review and meta-analysis


INTRODUCTION: in 2015, the World Health Organization recommended early antiretroviral therapy (ART) initiation after HIV diagnosis. Mixed results on the effect of same-day ART initiation (SDI) over non-same-day ART initiation (NSDI) on loss to follow-up (LTFU) and viral load suppression (VLS) necessitate further evaluation. METHODS: this was a systematic review and meta-analysis of people living with HIV in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs). Multiple databases were searched from January 2016 to December 2022. VLS was defined as HIV RNA <1,000 or <400 cells/ml, depending on the study. Forest plots were used to present the pooled prevalence and 95% confidence intervals (CIs). Heterogeneity was tested by an I(2) statistic and a p-value of <0.05 indicated its presence. Analyses were performed in STATA. RESULTS: sixteen studies (5 clinical trials, 10 cohorts, and 1 cross-sectional) were included in the final analysis. Nine studies with 157,633 people living with HIV were analyzed for LTFU and the pooled prevalence of LTFU was 22.0% (95%CI; 18.5–25.7). The pooled prevalence of VLS was 72.7% (95%CI; 65.4–79.5%). The I(2) statistic had a Q value of 200.62 (p<0.001) and 44.63 (p<0.001) for pooled prevalence of LTFU and VLS, respectively. Overall, compared to those who received NSDI, SDI had a significantly increased risk of LTFU (risk difference (RD)=0.04; 95%CI: 0.01–0.07). Although observational studies showed an increased risk of LTFU among SDI compared to NSDI (RD=0.05, 95%CI: 0.02–0.08), clinical trials did not. There was no statistically significant difference in VLS comparing those who received SDI vs NSDI (RD= 0.02, 95%CI: -0.03–0.07). CONCLUSION: nearly two in ten people living with HIV in LMICs who initiated ART were LTFU. SDI was associated with increased risk of LTFU. Efforts to prevent LTFU among those who receive SDI are critical to maximize its potential benefits.


Bakari HM, Alo O, Mbwana MS, Salim SM, Ludeman E, Lascko T, Ramadhani HO




  • Epidemiology and Determinants of Health
    • Epidemiology
  • Population(s)
    • General HIV+ population
  • Prevention, Engagement and Care Cascade
    • Engagement and Care Cascade
  • Engagement and Care Cascade
    • Retention in care
    • Treatment


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