Implementation and Operational Research: Linkage to Care Among Methadone Clients Living With HIV in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania

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Background:The first methadone maintenance treatment clinic in Tanzania was launched in February 2011 to address an emerging HIV epidemic among people who inject drugs. We conducted a retrospective cohort study to understand factors associated with linkage to HIV care and explore how a methadone maintenance treatment clinic can serve as a platform for integrated HIV care and treatment.Methods:This study used routine programmatic and clinical data on clients enrolled in methadone at Muhimbili National Hospital from February 2011 to January 2013. Multivariable proportional hazards regression model was used to examine time to initial CD4 count.Results:Final analyses included 148 HIV-positive clients, contributing 31.7 person-years. At 30, 60, and 90 days, the probability of CD4 screening was 40% [95% confidence interval (CI): 32% to 48%], 55% (95% CI: 47% to 63%), and 63% (95% CI: 55% to 71%), respectively. Clients receiving high methadone doses (≥85 mg/d) [adjusted hazard ratio (aHR): 1.68, 95% CI: 1.03 to 2.74] had higher likelihood of CD4 screening than those receiving low doses (<85 mg/d). Clients with primary education or lower (aHR: 1.62, 95% CI: 1.05 to 2.51) and self-reported poor health (aHR: 1.96, 95% CI: 1.09 to 3.51) were also more likely to obtain CD4 counts. Clients with criminal arrest history (aHR: 0.56, 95% CI: 0.37 to 0.85]) were less likely to be linked to care. Among 17 antiretroviral therapy eligible clients (CD4 ≤ 200), 12 (71%) initiated treatment, of which 7 (41%) initiated within 90 days.Conclusions:Levels of CD4 screening and antiretroviral therapy initiation were similar to Sub-Saharan programs caring primarily for people who do not inject drugs. Adequate methadone dosing is important in retaining clients to maximize HIV treatment benefits and allow for successful linkage to services.

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