Background Routine HIV clinical monitoring is vital for people living with HIV (PLHIV) after treatment initiation. The relationship between clinical visits during the first 6 months after initial antiretroviral therapy (ART) and long-term, HIV-related mortality and service retention was investigated. Methods: A retrospective ART observational research database was established based on de-identified data extracted from 6959 records of adult HIV-positive registrants held by Hunan CDC (Center for Disease Control and Prevention) between 2003 and 2013. Results: During the first 6 months of initiation into ART, 2364 (34.0%) of PLHIV had completed four scheduled visits, meeting the Chinese ART clinical monitoring standards. From 6 months onwards (up to 36 months), this group had the lowest HIV-related mortality (4.4%) compared with those who had more or less than four kept visits in the first 6 months [one visit only: Adjusted hazards ratio (AHR)≤3.15, 95% CI 2.24-3.88; two visits: AHR≤2.24, 95% CI 1.80-3.01; three visits: AHR≤1.86, 95% CI 1.69-2.05; and >4 visits: AHR≤1.37, 95% CI 1.11-1.72]. Those with less than three kept visits were also at increased risk of cohort loss to follow up (ART discontinuation, prolonged service disengagement or death). A myriad of personal, clinical and social factors are identified to be associated with increased HIV-related mortality and clinical retention. Conclusions: Enabling PLHIV to complete four scheduled clinical visits during the first 6 months of ART initiation, as recommended by the Chinese CDC, is critical.
- health services