The impact of project closure on HIV incidence and mortality in a cohort of couples in Lusaka Zambia
The objective of this study was to assess the impact of temporary closure of an HIV research clinic on the health of study participants. Primary data were collected quarterly from couples enrolled in research studies at an established HIV study site. There were 632 participating couples enrolled when the project closed, 475 of whom returned when it re-opened six months later. HIV sero-incidence, mortality rates and risk-taking behaviours were compared before and during the closure. Perceived impact of the closure was measured in returning participants. Demographic data collected at the last pre-closure study visit were used to look at the differences between returning and non-returning study participants. Serologic data from those who returned were compared pre- and post-closure to examine changes in HIV incidence. Mortality rates were estimated from reported deaths, and were compared pre- and during project closure. Perceptions of the impact of the closure among returning participants were examined through an interviewer administered questionnaire. It was found that couples who returned were not demographically different from couples who did not return. Most participants reported no problems with finding alternate sources of condoms and the incidence of HIV did not change significantly during the closure. Eighty-four percent respondents reported that the closure had a negative impact on them, 87% of whom rated loss of medical care as the main impact. The mortality rate among HIV-positive participants doubled from 6.7/100 person years to 12.4/100 person years during the closure (p=0.01). Results indicate that couples voluntary counselling and testing (CVCT) established durable risk-reduction behaviours that persisted during project closure. ThIn ae loss of healthcare was perceived as the most negative impact on participants, reflected in increased mortality rates. Research projects should make transition plans and budget for mechanisms to reduce the negative impact on participants of project closures.
- PMID Author:
Stephenson R, Shutes E, McKenna S, Allen S, Brill I, Kancheya N, Zulu I, Sinkala M, Tichacek A, Chomba E