Send to

Choose Destination
AIDS. 2004 May 21;18(8):1159-68.

Initiating highly active antiretroviral therapy in sub-Saharan Africa: an assessment of the revised World Health Organization scaling-up guidelines.

Author information

Desmond Tutu HIV Centre, Institute of Infectious Diseases and Molecular Medicine, Department of Medicine, University of Cape Town, Observatory, South Africa.



To assess the utility of the 2003 revised World Health Organization (WHO) criteria [initiating highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART) in stage IV, in stage III plus CD4 cell count < 350 x 10(6) cells/l, or in stage I or II plus CD4 cell count < 200 x 10 cells/l] relative to other scenarios of HAART initiation.


Progression to AIDS and death in 292 patients taking HAART and 974 not taking HAART in a South African institution in 1992-2001, stratifying patients by baseline CD4 cell count and WHO stage.


HAART was associated with decreased AIDS [adjusted rate ratio [ARR], 0.16; 95% confidence interval (CI), 0.08-0.31) and death (ARR, 0.10; 95% CI, 0.06-0.18). Benefit of HAART was significant across all WHO stages plus CD4 cell counts. The greatest number of deaths averted was in stages IV [74.0/100 patient-years (PY); 95% CI, 50.2-84.5) and III (32.8/100 PY; 95% CI, 22.4-40.9). AIDS cases averted in stage III (22.0/100 PY; 95% CI, 6.1-26.9) were higher than in stage I and II with CD4 cell count < 200 x 10(6) cells/l (8.9/100 PY 95% CI, 5.6-13.3). Treatment initiation for symptomatic disease resulted in greater benefits than using any CD4 cell thresholds. Application of WHO criteria increased the treatment-eligible proportion from 44.5% to 56.7% (P < 0.05) but did not prevent more death (P > 0.05) than treating symptomatic disease.


Implementation of the revised WHO guidelines in sub-Saharan Africa may result in a significantly increased number of individuals eligible for treatment but would not be as effective a strategy for preventing death as treating symptomatic disease.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for Wolters Kluwer
Loading ...
Support Center