To determine the prevalence of adequate monitoring and the costs of measuring CD4+ T-lymphocytes (CD4+ cell) and human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) viral load in people receiving antiretroviral therapy (ART) in seven countries in the WHO Region of the Americas.
We obtained retrospective, longitudinal data for 14 476 adults who started a first ART regimen at seven HIV clinics in Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Haiti, Honduras, Mexico and Peru between 2000 and 2011. We estimated the proportion of 180-day periods with adequate monitoring, which we defined as at least one CD4+ cell count and one viral load measurement. Factors associated with adequate monitoring were analysed using regression methods. The costs of the tests were estimated.
The median follow-up time was 50.4 months; the proportion of 180-day periods with adequate CD4+ cell counts was 69% while the proportion with adequate monitoring was 62%. Adequate monitoring was more likely in participants who were older, who started ART more recently, whose first regimen included a non-nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitor or who had a CD4+ cell count less than 200 cells/µl at ART initiation. The cost of one CD4+ cell count ranged from 7.37 United States dollars (US$) in Argentina to US$ 64.09 in Chile; the cost of one viral load measurement ranged from US$ 20.34 in Brazil to US$ 186.28 in Haiti.
In HIV-infected participants receiving ART in the WHO Region of the Americas, CD4+ cell count and viral load monitoring was often carried out less frequently than regional guidelines recommend. The laboratory costs of monitoring varied greatly.