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Integrating community pharmacy into community based anti-retroviral therapy program: A pilot implementation in Abuja, Nigeria.

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BACKGROUND:

The landscape of Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) epidemic control is shifting with the United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) 90-90-90 benchmarks for epidemic control. Community-based Antiretroviral Therapy (CART) models have improved treatment uptake and demonstrated good clinical outcomes. We assessed the feasibility of integrating community pharmacy as a task shift structure for differentiated community ART in Abuja-Nigeria.

METHODS:

Stable patients on first line ART regimens from public health facilities were referred to community pharmacies in different locations within the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja for prescription refills and treatment maintenance. Bio-demographic and clinical data were collected from February 25, 2016 to May 31st, 2017 and descriptive statistics analysis applied. The outcomes of measure were prescription refill and patient retention in care at the community pharmacy.

RESULTS:

Almost 10% of stable patients on treatment were successfully devolved from eight health facilities to ten community pharmacies. Median age of the participants was 35 years [interquartile range (IQR); 30, 41] with married women in the majority. Prescription refill was 100% and almost all the participants (99.3%) were retained in care after they were devolved to the community pharmacies. Only one participant was lost-to-follow-up as a result of death.

CONCLUSION:

Excellent prescription refill and high retention in care with very low loss-to-follow-up were associated with the community pharmacy model. The use of community pharmacy for community ART is feasible in Nigeria. We recommend the scale up of the model in all the 36 states of Nigeria.

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