Diagnosis and monitoring of HIV programmes to support treatment initiation and follow up and improve programme quality

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Purpose of review

The HIV ‘cascade of care’ breaks down at several points, with delayed HIV diagnosis, late treatment initiation, or interruption, leading to new morbidity and mortality and loss of prevention effects. New approaches are needed at each step.

Recent findings

HIV testing is still not reaching certain communities, resulting in late presentation. Creative ways to reach these communities is being explored, including with self-testing. HIV misdiagnosis is increasingly recognized as undermining testing programmes, highlighting the need for better quality control. More rapid antiretroviral initiation, even on the same day, initiation outside of health facilities, and more efficient defaulter re-initiation, may mean better retention and virological control. New antiretrovirals may address side effects responsible for poor adherence and treatment failure, as well as requiring lower adherence levels. Viral load monitoring expansion is required, but mechanisms are needed to ensure healthcare workers act on detectable results; point of care technologies may partly address this. Side-effect monitoring at a programme level is needed to characterise ‘real world’ effectiveness.


Integrated monitoring systems, using single patient identifiers and utilizing national laboratory data systems, will allow for better characterization and interventions that limit loss to follow up, and allow better pharmacovigilance and programme performance.

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