Socio-economic condition and lack of virological suppression among adults and adolescents receiving antiretroviral therapy in Ethiopia

Plymoth M, Sanders EJ, Van Der Elst EM, Medstrand P, Tesfaye F, Winqvist N, Balcha T, Bjorkman P
PLoS One. 2020;15

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INTRODUCTION: The potential impact of socio-economic condition on virological suppression during antiretroviral treatment (ART) in sub-Saharan Africa is largely unknown. In this case-control study, we compared socio-economic factors among Ethiopian ART recipients with lack of virological suppression to those with undetectable viral load (VL). METHODS: Cases (VL>1000 copies/ml) and controls (VL<150 copies/ml) aged >/=15years, with ART for >6 months and with available VL results within the last 3 months, were identified from registries at public ART clinics in Central Ethiopia. Questionnaire-based interviews on socio-economic characteristics, health condition and transmission risk behavior were conducted. Univariate variables associated with VL>1000 copies/ml (p<0.25) were added to a multivariable logistic regression model. RESULTS: Among 307 participants (155 cases, 152 controls), 61.2% were female, and the median age was 38 years (IQR 32-46). Median HIV-RNA load among cases was 6,904 copies/ml (IQR 2,843-26,789). Compared to controls, cases were younger (median 36 vs. 39 years; p = 0.004), more likely to be male (46.5% vs. 30.9%; p = 0.005) and had lower pre-ART CD4 cell counts (170 vs. 220 cells/mul; p = 0.009). In multivariable analysis of urban residents (94.8%), VL>1000 copies/ml was associated with lower relative wealth (adjusted odds ratio [aOR] 2.98; 95% CI 1.49-5.94; p = 0.016), geographic work mobility (aOR 6.27, 95% CI 1.82-21.6; p = 0.016), younger age (aOR 0.94 [year], 95% CI 0.91-0.98; p = 0.011), longer duration of ART (aOR 1.19 [year], 95% CI 1.07-1.33; p = 0.020), and suboptimal (aOR 3.83, 95% CI 1.33-10.2; p = 0.048) or poor self-perceived wellbeing (aOR 9.75, 95% CI 2.85-33.4; p = 0.012), after correction for multiple comparisons. High-risk sexual behavior and substance use was not associated with lack of virological suppression. CONCLUSION: Geographic work mobility and lower relative wealth were associated with lack of virological suppression among Ethiopian ART recipients in this predominantly urban population. These characteristics indicate increased risk of treatment failure and the need for targeted interventions for persons with these risk factors.