The impact of home-based HIV counseling and testing on care-seeking and incidence of common infectious disease syndromes in rural western Kenya
Centers for Disease Control & Prevention - USA, Ctr Dis Control & Prevent, Kenya Govt Med Res Ctr
Background: In much of Africa, most individuals living with HIV do not know their status. Home-based counseling and testing (HBCT) leads to more HIV-infected people learning their HIV status. However, there is little data on whether knowing one's HIV-positive status necessarily leads to uptake of HIV care, which could in turn, lead to a reduction in the prevalence of common infectious disease syndromes.
Methods: In 2008, Kenya Medical Research Institute (KEMRI) in collaboration with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) offered HBCT to individuals (aged >= 13 years) under active surveillance for infectious disease syndromes in Lwak in rural western Kenya. HIV test results were linked to morbidity and healthcare-seeking data collected by field workers through bi-weekly home visits. We analyzed changes in healthcare seeking behaviors using proportions, and incidence (expressed as episodes per person-year) of acute respiratory illness (ARI), severe acute respiratory illness (SARI), acute febrile illness (AFI) and diarrhea among first-time HIV testers in the year before and after HBCT, stratified by their test result and if HIV-positive, whether they sought care at HIV Patient Support Centers (PSCs).
Results: Of 9,613 individuals offered HBCT, 6,366 (66%) were first-time testers, 698 (11%) of whom were HIV-infected. One year after HBCT, 50% of HIV-infected persons had enrolled at PSCs - 92% of whom had started cotrimoxazole and 37% of those eligible for antiretroviral treatment had initiated therapy. Among HIV-infected persons enrolled in PSCs, AFI and diarrhea incidence decreased in the year after HBCT (rate ratio [RR] 0.84; 95% confidence interval [CI] 0.77 - 0.91 and RR 0.84, 95% CI 0.73 - 0.98, respectively). Among HIV-infected persons not attending PSCs and among HIV-uninfected persons, decreases in incidence were significantly lower. While decreases also occurred in rates of respiratory illnesses among HIV-positive persons in care, there were similar decreases in the other two groups.
Conclusions: Large scale HBCT enabled a large number of newly diagnosed HIV-infected persons to know their HIV status, leading to a change in care seeking behavior and ultimately a decrease in incidence of common infectious disease syndromes through appropriate treatment and care.