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1.  “Research participants want to feel they are better off than they were before research was introduced to them”: engaging cameroonian rural plantation populations in HIV research 
Background
During a period of evolving international consensus on how to engage communities in research, facilitators and barriers to participation in HIV prevention research were explored in a rural plantation community in the coastal region of Cameroon.
Methods
A formative rapid assessment using structured observations, focus group discussions (FGD), and key informant interviews (KIIs) was conducted with a purposive non-probabilistic sample of plantation workers and their household members. Eligibility criteria included living or working >1 year within the plantation community and age >18 years. Both rapid and in-depth techniques were used to complete thematic analysis.
Results
Sixty-five persons participated in the study (6 FGDs and 12 KIIs). Participants viewed malaria and gastrointestinal conditions as more common health concerns than HIV. They identified three factors as contributing to HIV risk: concurrent sexual relationships, sex work, and infrequent condom use. Interviewees perceived that the community would participate in HIV research if it is designed to: (1) improve community welfare, (2) provide comprehensive health services and treatment for illnesses, (3) protect the personal information of participants, especially those who test positive for HIV, (4) provide participant incentives, (5) incorporate community input, and (6) minimize disruptions to “everyday life”. Barriers to participation included: (1) fear of HIV testing, (2) mistrust of researchers given possible disrespect or intolerance of plantation community life and lack of concern for communication, (3) time commitment demands, (3) medical care and treatment that would be difficult or costly to access, and (4) life disruptions along with potential requirements for changes in behaviour (i.e., engage in or abstain from alcohol use and sex activities).
Conclusions
Consistent with UNAIDS guidelines for good participatory practice in HIV prevention research, study participants placed a high premium on researchers’ politeness, trust, respect, communication, tolerance and empathy towards their community. Plantation community members viewed provision of comprehensive health services as an important community benefit likely to enhance HIV research participation.
doi:10.1186/1472-698X-12-8
PMCID: PMC3460749  PMID: 22726937
2.  Retention in an antiretroviral therapy programme during an era of decreasing drug cost in Limbe, Cameroon 
Background
In 2002, Cameroon initiated scale up of antiretroviral therapy (ART); on 1 October 2004, a substantial reduction in ART cost occurred. We assessed the impact of this event and other factors on enrolment and retention in care among HIV-infected patients initiating ART from February 2002 to December 2005 at the single ART clinic serving the Southwest Region in Limbe, Cameroon.
Methods
We retrospectively analyzed clinical and pharmacy payment records of HIV-infected patients initiating ART according to national guidelines. We compared two cohorts of patients, enrolled before and after 1 October 2004, to determine if price reduction was associated with enhanced enrolment. We assessed factors associated with retention and survival by Cox proportional hazards models. Retention in care implied patients who had contact with the healthcare system as of 31 December 2005 (including those who were transferred to continue care in other ART centres), although these patients may have interrupted therapy at some time. A patient who was not retained in care may have dropped out (lost to follow up) or died.
Results
Mean enrolment rates for 2920 patients who initiated ART before and after the price reduction were 46.5 and 95.5 persons/month, respectively (p < 0.001). The probabilities of remaining alive and in care were 0.66 (95% CI 0.64-0.68) at six months, 0.58 (95% CI 0.56-0.60) at one year, 0.47 (95% CI 0.45-0.49) at two years and 0.35 (95% CI 0.32-0.38) at three years; they were not significantly different between the two cohorts of patients enrolled before and after the price reduction over the first 15 months of comparable follow up (hazard ratio 1.1; 95% CI 0.9-1.2, p = 0.27). In multivariable analysis using multiple imputations to compensate for missing values, factors associated with dropping out of care or dying were male gender (HR 1.33 [1.18-1.50], p = 0.003), treatment paid by self, family or partly by other (HR 3.05 [1.99-4.67], p < 0.001), and, compared with residents of Limbe, living more than 150 km from Limbe (HR 1.41 [1.18-1.69], p < 0.001), or being residents of Douala (HR 1.51 [1.16-1.98], p < 0.001).
Conclusions
Reducing the cost of ART increased enrolment of clients in the programme, but did not change retention in care. In a system where most clients pay for ART, an accessible clinic location may be more important than the cost of medication for retention in care. Decentralizing ART clinics might improve retention and survival among patients on ART.
doi:10.1186/1758-2652-14-32
PMCID: PMC3143073  PMID: 21679416
3.  Determinants of retention in care in an antiretroviral therapy (ART) program in urban Cameroon, 2003–2005  
Background
Retention in long-term antiretroviral therapy (ART) program remains a major challenge for effective management of HIV infected people in sub-Saharan Africa. Highly Active Antiretroviral Therapy (ART) discontinuation raises concerns about drug resistance and could negate much of the benefit sought by ART programs.
Methods
Based on existing patient records, we assessed determinants of retention in HIV care among HIV patients enrolled in an urban ART at two urban hospitals in Cameroon. Extended Cox regression procedures were used to identify significant predictors of retention in HIV care.
Results
Of 455 patients, 314 (69%) were women, median (IQR) age and baseline CD4 cell count were respectively 36 years (30 – 43) and 110 cells/μL (39 – 177). Forty patients (9%) had active tuberculosis (TB) at enrollment. After a median (IQR) follow-up of 18 months (10–18), 346 (75%) were still in care, 8 (2%) were known dead, and 101 (22%) were lost to follow-up (LFU). Severe immunosuppression (CD4 cell count ≤ 50 cells/μL) at baseline (aHR 2.3; 95% CI 1.4 – 3.7) and active tuberculosis upon enrollment (aHR 1.8; 95% CI 1.0 – 3.6) were independent predictors of cohort losses to follow-up within the first 6 months after HAART initiation.
Conclusion
These data suggest that three-quarter of HIV patients initiated on HAART remained in care and on HAART by 18 months; however, those with compromised immunologic status at treatment initiation, and those co-infected with TB were at increased risk for being lost to follow-up within the first 6 months on treatment.
PMCID: PMC2984267  PMID: 21532891
HIV ;  HAART ;  low income country ;  retention in care ;  loss to follow-up ;  cohort studies ;  Cameroon ;  sub-Sahara Africa

Results 1-3 (3)