AIDS and Behavior

, Volume 23, Issue 2, pp 375–385 | Cite as

Timing and Predictors of Initiation on Antiretroviral Therapy Among Newly-Diagnosed HIV-Infected Persons in South Africa

  • Anna LarsenEmail author
  • Mireille Cheyip
  • Abraham Tesfay
  • Peter Vranken
  • Henry Fomundam
  • Anthony Wutoh
  • Getahun Aynalem
Original Paper


Despite a decade of advancing HIV/AIDS treatment policy in South Africa, 20% of people living with HIV (PLHIV) eligible for antiretroviral treatment (ART) remain untreated. To inform universal test and treat (UTT) implementation in South Africa, this analysis describes the rate, timeliness and determinants of ART initiation among newly diagnosed PLHIV. This analysis used routine data from 35 purposively selected primary clinics in three high HIV-burden districts of South Africa from June 1, 2014 to March 31, 2015. Kaplan–Meier survival curves estimated the rate of ART initiation. We identified predictors of ART initiation rate and timely initiation (within 14 days of eligibility determination) using Cox proportional hazards and multivariable logistic regression models in Stata 14.1. Based on national guidelines, 6826 patients were eligible for ART initiation. Under half of men and non-pregnant women were initiated on ART within 14 days (men: 39.7.0%, 95% CI 37.7–41.9; women: 39.9%, 95% CI 38.1–41.7). Pregnant women initiated at a faster rate (within 14 days: 87.6%, 86.1–89.0). ART initiation and timeliness varied significantly by district, facility location, and age, with little to no variation by World Health Organization stage, or CD4 count. Men and non-pregnant women newly diagnosed with HIV who are eligible for ART in South Africa show suboptimal timeliness of ART initiation. If treatment initiation performance is not improved, UTT implementation will be challenging among men and non-pregnant women. UTT programming should be tailored to district and location categories to address contextual differences influencing treatment initiation.


South Africa Universal test and treat HIV/AIDS Antiretroviral therapy Time to initiation 



The authors thank all those who participated in this study, all data collectors and supervisors, and members of the South Africa Howard University team. The research was performed by Howard University through a grant from the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) through the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, under the terms of Cooperative Agreement Number 1U2GGH000391.


The findings and conclusions in this paper are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent the official position of the funding agencies.


This study was funded by the U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief 1U2GGH000391.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of interest

All authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Ethical approval

All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.

Informed consent

Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.


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Copyright information

© This is a U.S. Government work and not under copyright protection in the US; foreign copyright protection may apply 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Anna Larsen
    • 1
    Email author
  • Mireille Cheyip
    • 1
  • Abraham Tesfay
    • 2
  • Peter Vranken
    • 1
  • Henry Fomundam
    • 2
  • Anthony Wutoh
    • 2
  • Getahun Aynalem
    • 1
  1. 1.US Centers for Disease Control and PreventionPretoriaSouth Africa
  2. 2.Howard University Global InitiativePretoriaSouth Africa

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