Objectives HIV viral load is recommended for monitoring antiretroviral treatment and identifying treatment failure. We assessed the durability of viral suppression after viral load-triggered adherence counseling among patients with HIV viremia 6 months after ART initiation. Design Observational cohort enrolled in an antiretroviral treatment program in rural Uganda. Methods Participants who underwent routine viral load determination every 24 weeks and had at least 48 weeks of follow-up were included in this analysis. Patients with viral loads >400 copies/ml at 24 weeks of treatment were given additional adherence counseling, and all patients were followed to assess the duration of viral suppression and development of virologic failure. Results 1,841 participants initiating antiretroviral therapy were enrolled in the Rakai Health Sciences Program between June 2005 and June 2011 and were followed with viral load monitoring every 24 weeks. 148 (8%) of patients did not achieve viral suppression at 24 weeks and were given additional adherence counseling. 85 (60%) of these patients had undetectable viral loads at 48 weeks, with a median duration of viral suppression of 240 weeks (IQR 193-288 weeks). Failure to achieve an undetectable viral load at 48 weeks was associated with age <30 years and 24 week viral load >2,000 copies/ml in multivariate logistic regression analysis. Conclusions The majority of patients with persistent viremia who were provided adherence counseling achieved robust viral suppression for a median 4.6 years. Access to virologic monitoring and adherence counseling is a priority in resource-limited settings.
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