HIV virological non-suppression is highly prevalent among 18- to 24-year-old youths on antiretroviral therapy at the Kenyan coast

Nyongesa MK, Mwatasa MH, Kagonya VA, Mwambingu G, Ngetsa C, Newton CRJC, Abubakar A
BMC Infect Dis. 2022;22

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BACKGROUND: In sub-Saharan Africa, data on virologic outcomes of young people living with HIV (YLWH) enrolled on antiretroviral therapy (ART) remains scarce. In this study, we describe the prevalence of HIV virological non-suppression (VNS) and its associated factors among YLWH aged 18-24 years from the Kenyan coast. METHODS: Data were analyzed for 384 YLWH who participated in a larger cross-sectional study conducted between November 2018 and September 2019 in two counties at the Kenyan coast (Kilifi and Mombasa). Descriptive statistics were used to summarize sample characteristics and logistic regression was used for statistical modeling of factors associated with VNS. In this study, VNS was defined as plasma viral load >/= 1000 copies/mL. RESULTS: Among these YLWH with a mean age of 20.7 years (SD = 2.2); 55.5% females, the overall prevalence of VNS was 32.0% (95% Confidence interval (95% CI): 27.5, 36.9%). In the multivariable logistic regression analysis, being from a largely rural setting (adjusted Odds Ratio (aOR) 1.73, 95% CI 1.10, 2.71; p = 0.02), underweight (aOR 1.87, 95% CI 1.16, 3.01; p = 0.01) and low self-reported ART adherence (aOR 2.83, 95% CI 1.34, 6.00; p = 0.01) were significantly associated with higher odds of VNS in YLWH. CONCLUSIONS: In this study, high levels of VNS were observed among YLWH and this was significantly associated with rural residency, nutritional and ART adherence problems. ART adherence counselling and nutritional support and education should be intensified in this setting targeting YLWH residing mostly in rural areas. Given the high frequency of VNS, there is need to closely monitor viral load and profile HIV drug resistance patterns in youths from the Kenyan coast with confirmed virologic failure. The latter will help understand whether drug resistance also contributes to poor viral suppression in addition to, or exclusive of suboptimal ART adherence.