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Loss to Followup in HIV-Infected Patients from Asia-Pacific Region: Results from TAHOD

DOI: 10.1155/2012/375217

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This study examined characteristics of HIV-infected patients in the TREAT Asia HIV Observational Database who were lost to follow-up (LTFU) from treatment and care. Time from last clinic visit to 31 March 2009 was analysed to determine the interval that best classified LTFU. Patients defined as LTFU were then categorised into permanently LTFU (never returned) and temporary LTFU (re-entered later), and these groups compared. A total of 3626 patients were included (71% male). No clinic visits for 180 days was the best-performing LTFU definition (sensitivity 90.6%, specificity 92.3%). During 7697 person-years of follow-up, 1648 episodes of LFTU were recorded (21.4 per 100-person-years). Patients LFTU were younger ( ), had HIV viral load ≥500?copies/mL or missing ( ), had shorter history of HIV infection ( ), and received no, single- or double-antiretroviral therapy, or a triple-drug regimen containing a protease inhibitor ( ). 48% of patients LTFU never returned. These patients were more likely to have low or missing haemoglobin ( ), missing recent HIV viral load ( ), negative hepatitis C test ( ), and previous temporary LTFU episodes ( ). Our analyses suggest that patients not seen at a clinic for 180 days are at high risk of permanent LTFU, and should be aggressively traced. 1. Introduction Loss to followup (LTFU) in patients receiving antiretroviral therapy can cause serious consequences such as discontinuation of treatment and increased risk of death [1–3]. At a program level, LTFU can make it difficult to evaluate outcomes of treatment and care [4, 5]. In resource-limited settings, where treatment has become rapidly available following the rollout of antiretroviral therapy, LTFU presents even more challenging obstacles that require special consideration and approaches [6, 7]. One of the key questions in patient followup is how to define a patient as LTFU. This has varied in studies conducted in different settings [8–10]. Defining LTFU using a very early threshold, for example, a patient with no clinic visit in the last three months, may result in many patients being considered as LTFU who would return to clinic naturally at a later date. Defining LTFU with a long threshold, for example, one year, may mean delaying too long before any effort is made to track patients potentially at risk of LTFU. The majority of research into LTFU in HIV-infected patients receiving antiretroviral treatment in resource-limited settings has been conducted in the sub-Saharan Africa region [3, 10–13]. A few studies have been conducted among Asian, mostly female, patients

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