Background: Refugees and host nationals who accessed antiretroviral therapy (ART) in a remote refugee camp in Kakuma, Kenya (2011-2013) were compared on outcome measures that included viral suppression and adherence to ART. Methods: This study used a repeated cross-sectional design (Round One and Round Two). All adults (≥18 years) receiving care from the refugee camp clinic and taking antiretroviral therapy (ART) for ≥30 days were invited to participate. Adherence was measured by self-report and monthly pharmacy refills. Whole blood was measured on dried blood spots. HIV-1 RNA was quantified and treatment failures were submitted for drug resistance testing. A remedial intervention was implemented in response to baseline testing. The primary outcome was viral load <5000 copies/mL. The two study rounds took place in 2011-2013. Results: Among eligible adults, 86% (73/85) of refugees and 84% (86/102) of Kenyan host nationals participated in the Round One survey; 60% (44/73) and 58% (50/86) of Round One participants were recruited for Round Two follow-up viral load testing. In Round One, refugees were older than host nationals (median age 36 years, interquartile range, IQR 31, 41 vs 32 years, IQR 27, 38); the groups had similar time on ART (median 147 weeks, IQR 38, 64 vs 139 weeks, IQR 39, 225). There was weak evidence for a difference between proportions of refugees and host nationals who were virologically suppressed (<5000 copies/mL) after 25 weeks on ART (58% vs 43%, p = 0.10) and no difference in the proportions suppressed at Round Two (74% vs 70%, p = 0.66). Mean adherence within each group in Round One was similar. Refugee status was not associated with viral suppression in multivariable analysis (adjusted odds ratio: 1.69, 95% CI 0.79, 3.57; p = 0.17). Among those not suppressed at either timepoint, 69% (9/13) exhibited resistance mutations. Conclusions: Virologic outcomes among refugees and host nationals were similar but unacceptably low. Slight improvements were observed after a remedial intervention. Virologic monitoring was important for identifying an underperforming ART program in a remote facility that serves refugees alongside host nationals. This work highlights the importance of careful laboratory monitoring of vulnerable populations accessing ART in remote settings.
- Antiretroviral therapy
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Health(social science)
- Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health