Individual and public health benefits of antiretroviral therapy (ART) rely on successful engagement of HIV-infected patients in care. We aimed to evaluate the HIV care continuum in the Eastern European country of Georgia.Methods
The analysis included all adult (age ≥ 18 years) HIV-infected patients diagnosed in Georgia from January 1989 until June 2012. Data were extracted from the national HIV/AIDS database as of 1 October 2012. The following stages of the HIV care continuum were quantified: HIV infected, HIV diagnosed, linked to care, retained in care, eligible for ART and virologically suppressed.Results
Of 3295 cumulative cases of adult HIV infection reported in Georgia, 2545 HIV-infected patients were known to be alive as of 1 October 2012, which is 52% of the estimated 4900 persons living with HIV in the country. Of the 2545 persons diagnosed with HIV infection, 2135 (84%) were linked to care and 1847 (73%) were retained in care. Of 1446 patients eligible for ART, 1273 (88%) were on treatment and 985 (77%) of them had a viral load < 400 HIV-1 RNA copies/mL. Overall, 39% of those diagnosed and 20% of those infected had a suppressed viral load.Conclusions
The findings of our analysis demonstrate that the majority of patients diagnosed with HIV infection are retained in care. Loss of patients occurs at each step of the HIV care continuum, but the major gap is at the stage of HIV diagnosis. Reducing the number of persons living with undiagnosed HIV infection and simultaneously enhancing engagement in continuous care will be critical to achieve maximum individual and public health benefits of ART.