Background Transitioning from paediatric to adult healthcare requires successful antiretroviral treatment (ART) for adolescents living with HIV (ADLHIV). Implementing such a policy implies monitoring ART response and selecting for therapeutic options for ADLHIV in resource-limited settings (RLS) like Cameroon.
Methods The Ready study (EDCTP-CDF-1027) is conducted amongst ART-experienced ADLHIV (10–19 years old) in the Centre region, Cameroon. WHO-clinical staging, CD4-counts and viraemia were determined; in case of virological failure [VF] (viraemia ≥1000 copies/ml), HIV drug resistance (HIVDR) and subtyping were performed, and p<0.05 considered significant.
Results Out of 279 ADLHIV (212 urban vs 67 rural), the gender distribution was similar (54.5% female); median age was higher in urban (15 [IQR: 13–17] years) compared to rural (13 [IQR: 11–17] years), as well as the median duration on ART (7 [IQR: 3–10] years compared to 4 [IQR: 2–7] years, respectively); and the majority was on first-line ART (79.4% [162/204] urban vs 98.5% [66/67] rural, p<0.0004). Following treatment response, clinical failure (WHO-stage 3/4) was similarly low in both urban (5.7% [12/210]) and rural (4.5% [3/67]), p=0.938; CD4 increased similarly (p=0.298) from ART-initiation (370 cells/mm3[urban] vs 332 cells/mm3[rural]) to 6 years after initiation (938 cells/mm3[urban] vs 548 cells/mm3[rural]) and rate of immunodeficiency (<500 CD4 cells/mm3) was 41.0% (87/208) in urban vs 47.5% (29/61) in rural, p=0.428. VF was 43.2% (41/95) in urban vs 60.9% (14/23) in rural, p=0.126. Among nine (9) sequences available from those experiencing VF, overall HIVDR was found in 88.8%, with 77.7% NNRTI, 55.6% NRTI and 22.2% PI/r. All were HIV-1 group M, with 55.6% CRF02_AG, 22.0% F1 and 22.4% others.
Conclusion ADLHIV appear clinically asymptomatic, with considerable immune recovery overtime. Despite differences in ART duration between urban and rural settings, VF was similarly high, associated with HIVDR mainly to NNRTI-based regimens. Thus, NNRTI-sparing regimens might be highly convenient when transitioning ADLHIV to adult ART-regimens in RLS like Cameroon.
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