Survival of HIV-Infected Adolescents on Antiretroviral Therapy in Uganda: Findings from a Nationally Representative Cohort in Uganda
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BACKGROUND: Adolescents have been identified as a high-risk group for poor adherence to and defaulting from combination antiretroviral therapy (cART) care. However, data on outcomes for adolescents on cART in resource-limited settings remain scarce. METHODS: We developed an observational study of patients who started cART at The AIDS Service Organization (TASO) in Uganda between 2004 and 2009. Age was stratified into three groups: children (≤10 years), adolescents (11-19 years), and adults (≥20 years). Kaplan-Meier survival curves were generated to describe time to mortality and loss to follow-up, and Cox regression used to model associations between age and mortality and loss to follow-up. To address loss to follow up, we applied a weighted analysis that assumes 50% of lost patients had died. FINDINGS: A total of 23,367 patients were included in this analysis, including 810 (3.5%) children, 575 (2.5%) adolescents, and 21 982 (94.0%) adults. A lower percentage of children (5.4%) died during their cART treatment compared to adolescents (8.5%) and adults (10%). After adjusting for confounding, other features predicted mortality than age alone. Mortality was higher among males (p<0.001), patients with a low initial CD4 cell count (p<0.001), patients with advanced WHO clinical disease stage (p<0.001), and shorter duration of time receiving cART (p<0.001). The crude mortality rate was lower for children (22.8 per 1000 person-years; 95% CI: 16.1, 29.5), than adolescents (36.5 per 1000 person-years; 95% CI: 26.3, 46.8) and adults (37.5 per 1000 person-years; 95% CI: 35.9, 39.1). INTERPRETATION: This study is the largest assessment of adolescents receiving cART in Africa. Adolescents did not have cART mortality outcomes different from adults or children.
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