The cascade of care following community-based detection of HIV in sub-Saharan Africa - A systematic review with 90-90-90 targets in sight

Kalpana Sabapathy, Bernadette Hensen, Olivia Varsaneux, Sian Floyd, Sarah Fidler, Richard Hayes

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INTRODUCTION: We aimed to establish how effective community-based HIV testing services (HTS), including home and community location based (non-health facility) HIV testing services (HB-/CLB-HTS), are in improving care in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA), with a view to achieving the 90-90-90 targets.

METHODS: We conducted a systematic review of published literature from 2007-17 which reported on the proportion of individuals who link-to-care and/or initiate ART after detection with HIV through community-based testing. A meta-analysis was deemed inappropriate due to heterogeneity in reporting.

RESULTS AND DISCUSSION: Twenty-five care cascades from 6 SSA countries were examined in the final review- 15 HB-HTS, 8 CLB-HTS, 2 combined HB-/CLB-HTS. Proportions linked-to-care over 1-12 months ranged from 14-96% for HB-HTS and 10-79% for CLB-HTS, with most studies reporting outcomes over short periods (3 months). Fewer studies reported ART-related outcomes following community-based testing and most of these studies included <50 HIV-positive individuals. Proportions initiating ART ranged from 23-93%. One study reported retention on ART (76% 6 months after initiation). Viral suppression 3-12 months following ART initiation was 77-85% in three studies which reported this. There was variability in definitions of outcomes, numerators/denominators and observation periods. Outcomes varied between studies even for similar time-points since HTS. The methodological inconsistencies hamper comparisons. Previously diagnosed individuals appear more likely to link-to-care than those who reported being newly-diagnosed. It appears that individuals diagnosed in the community need time before they are ready to link-to-care/initiate ART. Point-of-care (POC) CD4-counts at the time of HTS did not achieve higher proportions linking-to-care or initiating ART. Similarly, follow-up visits to HIV-positive individuals did not appear to enhance linkage to care overall.

CONCLUSION: This systematic review summarises the available data on linkage to care/ART initiation following community-based detection of HIV, to help researchers and policy makers evaluate findings. The available evidence suggests that different approaches to community-based HTS including HB-HTS and CLB-HTS, are equally effective in achieving linkage to care and ART initiation among those detected. Engagement and support for newly diagnosed individuals may be key to achieving all three UNAIDS 90-90-90 targets. We also recommend that standardised measures of reporting of steps on the cascade of care are needed, to measure progress against targets and compare across settings.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0200737
JournalPLoS ONE
Issue number7
Number of pages22
Publication statusPublished - 2018


  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Africa South of the Sahara
  • Anti-HIV Agents/therapeutic use
  • CD4 Lymphocyte Count
  • Communicable Disease Control
  • Community Health Services/organization & administration
  • Continuity of Patient Care
  • Delivery of Health Care
  • Female
  • HIV Infections/diagnosis
  • Health Facilities
  • Humans
  • Infectious Disease Medicine
  • Male
  • Mass Screening
  • Point-of-Care Systems
  • Young Adult


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