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Wilson Dib R, Dandachi D, Matar M, Shayya A, Davila JA, Giordano TP, Mokhbat JE. HIV in Lebanon: Reasons for Testing, Engagement in Care, and Outcomes in Patients with Newly Diagnosed HIV Infections. AIDS and behavior. 2020 Aug 1; 24(8):2290-2298.
Little is known about clinical presentation and cascade of care among patients living with HIV (PLWH) in Beirut, Lebanon. The study aims to examine the reasons for HIV testing and to evaluate the clinical characteristics of, predictors of advanced HIV stage at presentation in, and rates of ART initiation, retention in care, and viral load suppression among PLWH in Lebanon. We conducted a retrospective study of PLWH presenting to a tertiary-care centre-affiliated outpatient clinic from 2008 to 2016 with new HIV infection diagnoses. We identified a total of 423 patients: 89% were men, 55% were 30-50 years old, and 58% self-identified as men who have sex with men. About 35% of the patients had concurrent sexually transmitted diseases at the time of HIV diagnosis. Thirty percent of infection cases were identified by provider-initiated HIV testing, 36% of cases were identified by patient-initiated testing, and 34% of patients underwent testing for screening purposes. The proportion of individuals presenting with advanced HIV disease decreased from 40% in 2008-2009 to 24% in 2014-2015. Age older than 50 years and identification of HIV by a medical provider were independent predictors of advanced HIV infection at presentation. Among patients having indications for treatment (n? = 253), 239 (94%) were prescribed antiretroviral therapy, and 147 (58%) had evidence of viral suppression at 1 year. Furthermore, 266 patients (63%) were retained in care. The care continuum for PLWH in Lebanon is comparable with those in high-income countries yet still far behind the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS 90-90-90 set target.