Home Deliveries of Antiretrovirals Worked Better for SA HIV Patients

A study investigating the feasibility of home delivery of antiretroviral therapy (ART) was well received and had significantly more participants achieving viral suppression.

In South Africa, 27% of the population is HIV positive, with viral suppression achieved only in 64% of the population. Post-apartheid healthcare reforms have done little to improve access to healthcare for most South Africans. HIV positive pregnant women, for example, have difficulty achieving viral suppression for a number of reasons including crowded clinics that are often at a great distance.

To investigate the feasibility of home delivery of ART recruited 162 people living with HIV, 88% of those randomised to home delivery experienced viral suppression (defined as viral loads less than 100 copies/ml) compared to 74% of those randomised to clinic visits, reported Ruanne Barnabas, MBChB, DPhil, of the University of Washington. The participants were followed for a median of 47 weeks, even during COVID restrictions.

Dr Barnabas reported that the difference was even more pronounced in men (64% in clinic group vs 84% in delivery group). This is important as there are gaps in viral suppression with standard, clinic-based ART, especially among men and priority populations. Home ART delivery and monitoring can increase access and the intention to treat.

“If a client pays for the service, and the benefits are sufficient, this could become a scalable strategy,” Dr Barnabas said. This could help achieve UNAIDS viral suppression targets for South Africa of 86%, she added.

Dr Barnabas described the home delivery as an Amazon Prime-type service, where clients paid an income-scaled one-time fee, for ART delivery and monitoring.

Viral load testing was a secondary objective while testing of the ability to pay the fee and the acceptability of the service was the primary objective. The participants were from a lower income group, with 19% being labourers or semi-skilled workers, and 60% unemployed.

The participants responded well to the home delivery, with 98% of participants paying the fee, and 100% saying they thought the fee was reasonable, that it reminded them to take their medications, and that they would continue to pay it if delivery was available. The next step would be to see if the service could be financially viable if scaled up. 

Source: MedPage Today

Presentation information: Barnabas R, et al “Fee for home delivery and monitoring of ART raises viral suppression in South Africa” CROI 2021; Abstract 111LB.

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