The clock is ticking: The rate and timeliness of antiretroviral therapy initiation from the time of treatment eligibility in Kenya

Thomas A. Odeny, Brendan DeCenso, Emily Dansereau, Anne Gasasira, Caroline Kisia, Pamela Njuguna, Annie Haakenstad, Emmanuela Gakidou, Herbert C. Duber

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9 Scopus citations


Introduction: Understanding the determinants of timely antiretroviral therapy (ART) initiation is useful for HIV programmes intent on developing models of care that reduce delays in treatment initiation while maintaining a high quality of care. We analysed patient- and facility-level determinants of time to ART initiation among patients who initiated ART in Kenya. Methods: We collected facility-level information and conducted a retrospective chart review of adults initiating ART between 2007 and 2012 at 51 health facilities in Kenya. We evaluated the association between patient- and facility-level covariates at the time of ART eligibility and time to ART initiation. We also explored the determinants associated with timeliness of ART initiation. Results: The analysis included 11,942 patients. The median age at the time eligibility was first determined was 37 years (interquartile range [IQR] 31-45). Overall, 75% of patients initiated ART within two months of eligibility. The median CD4 cell count at the time eligibility was first determined rose from 132 (IQR 51-217) in 2007 to 195 (IQR 91-286) in 2011 to 2012 (p<0.001). The cumulative probability of ART initiation among treatment-eligible patients increased over time: 87.1% (95% confidence interval [CI] 85.1-89.0%) in 2007; 96.8% (96.0-97.5%) in 2008; 97.1% (96.3-97.7%) in 2009; 98.5% (98.0 - 98.9%) in 2010; and 99.7% (95% CI 99.4 - 99.8%) in 2011 to 2012 (p<0.0001). In multivariate analyses, attending a health facility with high ART patient volumes within two months of eligibility was considered the key facility-level determinant of ART initiation (adjusted odds ratio 0.57, 95% CI 0.45-0.72, p<0.001). Patient-level determinants included being eligible for ART in the years subsequent to 2007, advanced World Health Organization clinical stage and low CD4 cell count at the time eligibility was first determined. Conclusions: Overall, the time between treatment eligibility and ART initiation decreased substantially in Kenya between 2007 and 2012, with uniform gains across different types of health facilities. Our findings highlight the slow increase in CD4 cell counts at the time of ART eligibility over time, indicating that a large number of patients are still beginning ART with advanced HIV disease. Our findings also support the decentralisation of ART services at all health facilities that have the capacity to initiate treatment. Continued evaluation of programme- and country-level data is needed to monitor timeliness of ART initiation as countries continue to expand treatment access.

Original languageEnglish
Article number20019
JournalJournal of the International AIDS Society
Issue number1
StatePublished - Oct 26 2015


  • ART initiation
  • Africa
  • Antiretroviral therapy
  • HIV
  • Kenya
  • Time to start treatment


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