Objectives: To assess the extent to which the current practice for first line therapy concurs with the recommended guidelines and to examine the response of treatment naïve patients to first line Highly Active Antiretroviral Therapy (HAART) at the University Hospital of the West Indies, using CD4 cell counts.
Methods: Over a three-month period, a cross-sectional study design was instituted and data were collected on all patients on HAART at the University Hospital of the West Indies (UHWI) outpatient HIV clinic. Information was collected by reviewing patient medical records using data collection sheets. The data obtained from the medical records included: age, gender, date of diagnosis of HIV, date at which HAART was commenced, CD4 cell counts prior to the commencement of antiretrovirals, the initial HAART regimes and subsequent CD4 cell counts.
Results: A total of 165 persons who met the criteria of being on HAART therapy were enrolled in the study. The average time span between diagnosis of HIV and commencement of antiretroviral therapy was 1.92 years and the range for this was 0 to 12.29 years. The average CD4 count prior to initiation of HAART was 186 cells/mm3. The most common regime used at the UHWI for first line therapy was combivir and efavirenz, n = 78 (47.3%), followed by combivir and nevirapine, n = 29 (17.6%). The average difference between the initial CD4 count prior to the initiation of HAART and first repeated CD4 count was 102 cells/mm3. The mean time between the first and repeated CD4 cell counts was 376 days.
Conclusion: The recommended guidelines were adhered to for the majority of patients initiated on antiretrovirals at the UHWI. The treatment outcomes achieved at the UHWI were similar to those achieved in developed countries. This gives substantial evidence in support of international efforts to make antiretroviral therapy available in developing countries.