Community and service provider views to inform the 2013 WHO consolidated antiretroviral guidelines: key findings and lessons learnt

Article from AIDS supplement: 2013 WHO Consolidated Guidelines on the use of Antiretroviral drugs: Evidence and Implementation

Amy C. Hsieh, Gitau Mburu, Adam B.J. Garner, Anja Teltschik, Mala Ram, Christoforos Mallouris, Martina Penazzato, Nathan Shaffer, Philippa J. Easterbrook and Andrew Ball


The objective was to evaluate community and healthcare worker (HCW) values and preferences on key topics to inform the development of the 2013 WHO consolidated guidelines for antiretroviral therapy in low and middle income countries.


Cross-sectional e-survey and e-forum discussion; focus group discussions (FGDs).


Data were collected on community perspectives regarding a range of potential clinical and operational recommendations in the 2013 guidelines between November 2012 and January 2013 through an e-survey (n¼1088) and e-forum (n¼955). Additional FGDs were held with people living with HIV (PLHIV) in Malawi and Uganda (n¼88) on antiretroviral therapy (ART) use among pregnant women. Two surveys were also undertaken on similar topics covered in the e-survey for health care workers caring for adults (n¼98) and children (n¼348).


A total of 124 studies met our selection criteria. Eighty-six studies were RCTs. More than 20 studies have tested the effectiveness of each of the following interventions, either singly or in combination with other interventions: cognitive-behavioural interventions, education, treatment supporters, directly observed therapy, and active adherence reminder devices (such as mobile phone text messages). Although there is strong evidence that all five of these interventions can significantly increase ART adherence in some settings, each intervention has also been found not to produce significant effects in several studies. Almost half (55) of the 124 studies investigated the effectiveness of combination interventions. Combination interventions tended to have effects that were similar to those of single interventions. The evidence base on interventions in key populations was weak, with the exception of interventions for people who inject drugs.


There were 1088 e-survey respondents from 117 countries: of whom 37.7% (298/791) were females, 49.9% (431/864) PLHIV, and 20.9% (174/831) from low-income countries. The proportion of e-survey respondents who supported raising the CD4þ T-cell threshold for ART initiation in adults from 350 to 500 cells/ml was 51.0% (355/696), and regardless of CD4þ T-cell count for all pregnant females 89.8% (607/676), HIV serodiscordant partners 71.9% (486/676), and all children on diagnosis of infection 47.4% (212/447). E-survey respondents strongly supported discontinuing use of stavudine (72.7%, 416/572), task-shifting/sharing from doctors to nurses (75.2%, 275/365) and from nurses to community health workers (71.1%, 261/367) as strategies to expand access to HIV testing, care, and treatment. Focus group discussion respondents identified service capacity, and social and legal concerns as key considerations influencing the decisions of women living with HIV to continue ART after the risk of vertical transmission has passed. Key lessons learnt in these consultations included the need for piloting and validation of questions; sufficient time to adequately disseminate the survey; and consideration of using FGDs and mobile phone technology to improve participation of people with limited internet access.


Community participation in guideline development processes is important to ensure that their perspectives are considered in the resulting recommendations.

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