Health SA Gesondheid (Online)
On-line version ISSN 2071-9736
Print version ISSN 1025-9848
GANESEN-MOOTHUSAMY, Hilda and NAIDOO, Mergan. Initiation of antiretroviral therapy at rural primary health care clinics in KwaZulu Natal. Health SA Gesondheid (Online) [online]. 2013, vol.18, n.1, pp.1-8. ISSN 2071-9736.
South Africa bears the greatest burden of HIV infection globally with the most infected people living in KwaZulu-Natal (KZN). Decentralised medical care for HIV positive patients and antiretroviral therapy (ART) delivery to primary health care facilities were proposed nationally to achieve adequate ART coverage for patients in need of treatment. This study described the HIV positive patients who accessed medical care and were initiated on ART at two existing government Primary Health Care (PHC) clinics with no added donor support, in Ilembe, KZN. This was an observational descriptive study of ART initiation from 01 April 2008 to 30 April 2009. Data were collected from clinical records kept on site. HIV Testing and the pre-ART programmes which consisted of medical care prior to ART initiation are briefly described. Socio-economic, demographic and clinical characteristics of patients who were initiated on ART were sampled and described. A minority (2.95%) of the study population tested for HIV of which 36.0% tested positive. Majority (60.0%) of patients who joined the pre-ART programme care did not return. The ART sample consisted of 375 patients of whom 65.0% were women, 85.9% were unmarried, 61.6% were unemployed and 50.4% had a secondary level of education. Tuberculosis (TB) prevalence and incidence at ART initiation were 22.1% and 14.7% respectively. The prevalence of Syphilis and Hepatitis B co-infections were 13.1% and 8.6 % respectively. Two thirds of female patients (66.4%) received a Pap smear result of which the majority (62.3%) were abnormal. Uptake for HIV testing followed by relevant CD4 testing was poor. High TB, Hepatitis B and Syphilis co-infection was noted amongst patients initiated on ART. Cervical cancer screening must be intensified. Although ART initiation with no added external resources was successful, record keeping was suboptimal.