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PLoS One. 2010 May 11;5(5):e10584. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0010584.

Patient retention and adherence to antiretrovirals in a large antiretroviral therapy program in Nigeria: a longitudinal analysis for risk factors.

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  • 1Institute of Human Virology, University of Maryland School of Medicine, Baltimore, Maryland, United States of America.



Substantial resources and patient commitment are required to successfully scale-up antiretroviral therapy (ART) and provide appropriate HIV management in resource-limited settings. We used pharmacy refill records to evaluate risk factors for loss to follow-up (LTFU) and non-adherence to ART in a large treatment cohort in Nigeria.


We reviewed clinic records of adult patients initiating ART between March 2005 and July 2006 at five health facilities. Patients were classified as LTFU if they did not return >60 days from their expected visit. Pharmacy refill rates were calculated and used to assess non-adherence. We identified risk factors associated with LTFU and non-adherence using Cox and Generalized Estimating Equation (GEE) regressions, respectively. Of 5,760 patients initiating ART, 26% were LTFU. Female gender (p < 0.001), post-secondary education (p = 0.03), and initiating treatment with zidovudine-containing (p = 0.004) or tenofovir-containing (p = 0.05) regimens were associated with decreased risk of LTFU, while patients with only primary education (p = 0.02) and those with baseline CD4 counts (cell/ml(3)) >350 and <100 were at a higher risk of LTFU compared to patients with baseline CD4 counts of 100-200. The adjusted GEE analysis showed that patients aged <35 years (p = 0.005), who traveled for >2 hours to the clinic (p = 0.03), had total ART duration of >6 months (p<0.001), and CD4 counts >200 at ART initiation were at a higher risk of non-adherence. Patients who disclosed their HIV status to spouse/family (p = 0.01) and were treated with tenofovir-containing regimens (p < or = 0.001) were more likely to be adherent.


These findings formed the basis for implementing multiple pre-treatment visit preparation that promote disclosure and active community outreaching to support retention and adherence. Expansion of treatment access points of care to communities to diminish travel time may have a positive impact on adherence.

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