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HIV viral load (VL) testing in resource-limited settings is often centralised, limiting access. In Myanmar, we assessed outcomes according to VL access and the VL cascade (case management after a first high VL result) before and after near point-of-care (POC) VL was introduced. Routine programme data from people living with HIV (PLHIV) on antiretroviral therapy (ART) were used. We assessed the odds of getting a VL test done by year. Attrition and mortality two years after ART initiation were compared between three groups of PLHIV with different access to VL testing using Kaplan-Meier analysis. We compared VL cascades in those with a first VL result before and after near POC VL testing became available. With logistic regression, predictors of confirmed virological failure after a first high VL in the POC era were explored. Among 4291 PLHIV who started ART between July 2009 and June 2018, 794 (18.5%) became eligible for VL testing when it was not available, 2388 (55.7%) when centralised laboratory-based VL testing was available, and 1109 (25.8%) when near POC VL testing was available. Between 2010 and 2019, the odds of getting a VL test among those eligible increased with each year (OR: 5.21 [95% CI: 4.95-5.48]). Attrition and mortality were not different in the three groups. When comparing PLHIV with a first VL result before and after implementation of the near POC VL testing, in the latter, more had a first VL test (92% versus 15%, p<0.001), less had a first high VL result (5% versus 14%, p<0.001), and more had confirmed virological failure (67% versus 47%, p = 0.013). Having a first VL ≥5000 copies/mL after near POC implementation was associated with confirmed virological failure (adjusted OR: 2.61 [95% CI: 1.02-6.65]). Near POC VL testing enabled rapid increase of VL coverage and a well-managed VL cascade in Myanmar. Copyright: © 2023 Tun et al. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.


Ni Ni Tun, Frank Smithuis, Nyan Lynn Tun, Myo Min, Myo Ma Ma Hlaing, Josefien van Olmen, Lutgarde Lynen, Tinne Gils. Near point-of-care HIV viral load testing: Cascade after high viral load in suburban Yangon, Myanmar. PloS one. 2023;18(4):e0272673

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PMID: 37053171

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