Background Despite recent efforts to scale-up lifelong combination antiretroviral therapy (cART) in sub- Saharan Africa, high rates of unsuppressed viremia persist among cART users, and many countries in the region fall short of the UNAIDS 2020 target to have 90% virally suppressed. We sought to determine the factors associated with unsuppressed viremia (defined for the purpose of this study as >200 copies/ml) among sub-Saharan African women on lifelong cART. Methods This cross-sectional analysis was based on baseline data of the PROMOTE longitudinal cohort study at 8 sites in Uganda, Malawi, Zimbabwe and South Africa. The study enrolled 1987 women living with HIV who initiated lifelong cART at least 1-5 years ago. Socio-demographic, clinical, and cART adherence data were collected. We used multivariable Poisson regression with robust variance to identify factors associated with unsuppressed viremia. Results At enrolment, 1947/1987 (98%) women reported taking cART. Of these, HIV-1 remained detectable in 293/1934 (15%), while 216/1934 (11.2%) were considered unsuppressed (>200 copies/ml). The following factors were associated with an increased risk of unsuppressed viremia: not having household electricity (adjusted prevalence risk ratio (aPRR) 1.74, 95% confidence interval (CI) 1.28-2.36, p<0.001); not being married (aPRR 1.32, 95% CI 0.99-1.78, p = 0.061), self-reported missed cART doses (aPRR 1.63, 95% CI 1.24-2.13, p<0.001); recent hospitalization (aPRR 2.48, 95% CI 1.28-4.80, p = 0.007) and experiencing abnormal vaginal discharge in the last three months (aPRR 1.88; 95% CI 1.16-3.04, p = 0.010). Longer time on cART (aPRR 0.75, 95% CI 0.64-0.88, p<0.001) and being older (aPRR 0.77, 95% CI 0.76-0.88, p<0.001) were associated with reduced risk of unsuppressed viremia. Conclusion Socioeconomic barriers such as poverty, and individual barriers like not being married, young age, and self-reported missed doses are key predictors of unsuppressed viremia. Targeted interventions are needed to improve cART adherence among women living with HIV with this risk factor profile.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
- Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)