Treatment (ART) retention continues to be a challenge in Sub-Saharan Africa. Understanding
factors that contribute to default at the early stage of ART can contribute to avoid
poor treatment outcomes. We conducted a retrospective cross-sectional study on adult
patients who initiated ART treatment between October 2019 and September 2020 in
25 health facilities in the West region of Cameroon. Early ART default was defined
as having default within the first three months of treatment. The mean age of the
2219 clients included in the analysis was 36.8 (SD:13.4), and 838 (36.5%) were male.
The median time to the first ART default of the 629 (28.3%) participants who experienced
at least one ART default within 12 months after their ART initiation was 5 months,
and 41.2% of those defaults occurred within the first three months of ART. Male
gender (AOR =1.3; 95%CI:1.1-1.7) and good health at initiation (AOR =1.7; 95%CI:1.3-2.2)
were associated with a high risk of early default; while being followed up in a
private facility (AOR =0.3; 95%CI:0.2-0.6) were associated with less risk of early
default. The ART default at the early stage of HIV care is high in the West region
of Cameroon and more frequent in the male gender and in patients with apparent good
health at the time of ART initiation. Interventions should be identified and implemented
to ensure continuity of ART treatment especially in males, in clients with good
health at the time of ART initiation, and in clients on care in public health facilities.
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