Date of Conferral





Public Health


Richard D. Jimenez


Abstract Managing HIV requires lifelong therapy. Retaining clients on lifelong therapeutic antiretroviral therapy (ART) ensures the suppression of viral replication and better health outcomes. The time of the start of ART management is also a factor in determining better health outcomes for persons living with HIV. This study examined the association between initiation criteria (treat all, Option B+, and CDC T-cell count < 500) and retention on ART at 12 months for 17,974 randomly selected clients in the Ghana Health Service's HIV patient electronic database. Analyses controlled for age, gender, educational status, alcohol use, treatment/adherence monitoring, and tuberculosis disease treatment. Bronfenbrenner's ecological systems theory guided the interpretation of the findings. Results shows that retention was positively associated with all treatment initiation criteria. Clients initiated with CD4 count ≤ 500 criteria seemed to be retained at 12 months on ART at a higher rate than initiation criteria based on Option B+ and treat all. The study results may contribute to positive social change by supporting CD4 testing for clients before initiation of ART to improve retention and ensure the availability and use of adherence counseling, no tuberculosis disease and its prevention, and low use of alcohol among people living with HIV. The results of this study may also provide opportunities for public health policy intervention efforts requiring a personalized, group-based approach to service delivery at the intrapersonal level, interconnected with interpersonal, meso, and meta factors at the community level.