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Trans R Soc Trop Med Hyg. 2008 Sep;102(9):905-11. doi: 10.1016/j.trstmh.2008.06.010. Epub 2008 Jul 24.

Provision of antiretroviral therapy to children within the public sector of South Africa.

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  • 1School of Public Health and Family Medicine, University of Cape Town, Anzio Road, Observatory, Cape Town 7925, South Africa.


The South African Department of Health has embraced the primary health care approach in the provision of antiretroviral therapy (ART) to children. This paper compares clinical outcomes of children treated at primary healthcare clinics, district hospitals, and secondary and tertiary hospitals. A retrospective review of routine data captured by the provincial antiretroviral monitoring system was completed. Simplified cohort analysis was used to determine the cumulative incidence of baseline characteristics and outcomes. Data on 1741 children started at level 2 & 3, level 1 and primary healthcare clinic facilities between April 2004 and April 2006 were analysed. Kaplan-Meier survival estimates for these groups were 0.88 (95% CI 0.86-0.90), 0.94 (95% CI 0.89-0.97) and 0.94 (95% CI 0.89-0.96) at 12 months of ART, respectively, on intention-to-treat analysis. The overall cumulative proportion of children with a suppressed viral load was 73% (95% CI 69-77%) at 12 months of ART. There was no significant difference in viral load suppression rates between the three groups. This study confirms the feasibility of providing antiretrovirals at all levels of the healthcare service in the Western Cape. The higher death rates at level 2 & 3 facilities are most likely due to recruitment of sicker patients at this level.

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