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Documented higher burden of advanced and very advanced HIV disease among patients, especially men, accessing healthcare in a rapidly growing economic and industrial hub in South Africa: A call to action

D K Glencross, N Cassim, L M Coetzee

Abstract


Background. Lephalale Municipality in Limpopo Province, South Africa, has seen significant economic and industrial development owing to expansion of the coal mining and power generation sectors. This development has coincided with substantial population growth of 65% between 2001 and 2016, attributable to largely (migrant) males living in the area who, overall, outnumbered females by ~121:100. The local HIV prevalence is reported to be higher than national rates.

Objectives. Anonymised National Health Laboratory Service CD4+ data were used to document increasing laboratory services workload and to establish the burden of advanced (CD4+ count <200 cells/µL) and very advanced (<100 cells/µL) HIV disease among adult patients accessing public healthcare in Lephalale between 2006 and 2015.

Methods. A cross-sectional design was used to analyse CD4+ laboratory data. CD4+ outcomes were categorised by volumes of tests, year, health facility type, age categories (15 - 19, 20 - 24, 25 - 29, 30 - 34, 35 - 39, 40 - 44, 45 - 49 and >49 years), CD4+ test range (≤50, 51 - 100, 101 - 200, 201 - 350, 351 - 500 and ≥501 cells/µL) and gender. Median CD4+ counts were calculated.

Results. Extracted Lephalale data comprised 57 490 CD4+ results, with a mean patient age of 34 years. Considerably fewer male than female patients had CD4+ counts reported (male/female ratio 0.45:1). CD4+ test volumes showed a five-fold escalation over the study period, increasing from 1 458 tests in 2006 to 8 239 in 2015. A considerable burden of advanced and very advanced HIV disease (exceeding 50% of all cases) was noted in 2006/2007; by 2015 the proportion had fallen, but was still high at 27%. The overall median CD4+ count in 2006 (192 cells/µL) confirmed a high burden of advanced disease, with modest improvement to 289 cells/µL by 2015. Between 2006 and 2015, the median CD4+ count for females increased from 204 to 405 cells/µL, while that for males increased from 126 to 285 cells/µL. Age analysis further revealed that men aged <20 years or >25 years, and specifically those aged 30 - 45 years, had up to 44% more advanced HIV disease.

Conclusions. Lower median CD4+ counts and a dramatic increase in volumes of CD4+ tests performed from 2007 onwards revealed a high burden of advanced and very advanced HIV disease in patients accessing care in Lephalale. Viewed together with Statistics South Africa census documentation of a disproportionately high number of males compared with females living in the area, these figures suggest that improved systems are urgently needed to encourage and accommodate access to HIV care for male (migrant worker) patients living and working in emerging industrial centres.


Authors' affiliations

D K Glencross, National Health Laboratory Service, Johannesburg, South Africa; Department of Molecular Medicine and Haematology, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa

N Cassim, National Health Laboratory Service, Johannesburg, South Africa; Department of Molecular Medicine and Haematology, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa

L M Coetzee, National Health Laboratory Service, Johannesburg, South Africa; Department of Molecular Medicine and Haematology, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa

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Keywords

HIV; HIV/AIDS; Advanced HIV disease burden; Very advanced HIV disease burden; CD4+; Immune status; Economic hub; Migrant workforce

Cite this article

South African Medical Journal 2020;110(6):505-513. DOI:10.7196/SAMJ.2020.v110i6.14352

Article History

Date submitted: 2020-05-29
Date published: 2020-05-29

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