Integration of HIV care into primary care is a potential strategy to improve access to antiretroviral therapy (ART) in high-burden countries. This study was conducted to determine the effect of integration of HIV care on the survival of patients needing ART.Methods:
A questionnaire was used to measure the integration of HIV care into primary care during a randomized controlled trial of task shifting and decentralization of HIV care in South Africa. Cox proportional hazard ratios (HRs) were estimated for the effect of 5 different integration scores (total, pre-ART, ART, mainstreaming HIV, and internal integration) on the survival of patients with CD4 count ≤350 cells per microliter and not yet on ART.Results:
A total of 9252 patients were followed up for 12–18 months. Cox proportional HRs adjusted for patient and clinic characteristics showed decreased risk of mortality in clinics with high scores for total integration [HR, 0.97; 95% confidence interval (CI), 0.95 to 0.98; P < 0.001], ART integration (HR, 0.94; 95% CI, 0.90 to 0.99; P = 0.013), and internal integration (HR, 0.97; 95% CI, 0.95 to 1.00; P = 0.041). Analysis of the effect of component scores adjusted for patient characteristics only showed decreased risk of mortality in clinics with high scores for total integration (HR, 0.97; 95% CI, 0.94 to 1.00; P = 0.032), pre-ART integration (HR, 0.92; 95% CI, 0.85 to 0.99; P = 0.027), ART integration (HR, 0.95; 95% CI, 0.93 to 0.98; P = 0.001), and mainstreaming HIV (HR, 0.90; 95% CI, 0.83 to 0.97; P = 0.007).Conclusion:
In a context of task shifting and decentralization of care, integration of HIV care into primary care is associated with improved survival of HIV-positive patients needing ART.