Cookies on this website

We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. If you click 'Accept all cookies' we'll assume that you are happy to receive all cookies and you won't see this message again. If you click 'Reject all non-essential cookies' only necessary cookies providing core functionality such as security, network management, and accessibility will be enabled. Click 'Find out more' for information on how to change your cookie settings.

PURPOSE OF REVIEW: Patients on antiretroviral therapy (ART) in high-income countries have routine laboratory tests to monitor ART efficacy/toxicity. We review studies describing the outcomes and costs of different monitoring approaches, predominantly in low-income countries. RECENT FINDINGS: CD4 cell counts, HIV RNA viral load and clinical events are frequently discordant; viral load suppression occurs with WHO-defined CD4 failure and, as expected, viral load failure often occurs before CD4 failure. Routine CD4 monitoring provides small but significant mortality/morbidity benefits over clinical monitoring, but, at current prices, is not yet cost-effective in many sub-Saharan African countries. Viral load monitoring is less cost-effective with modelling studies reporting variable results. More research into point-of-care tests, methods for targeting monitoring and thresholds for defining failure is needed. Most laboratory monitoring for toxicity is neither effective nor cost-effective. In terms of models for delivery of care, task-shifting with nurse-led and decentralized care appear as effective as doctor-led or centralized care. SUMMARY: Recent studies have improved the evidence base for monitoring on ART. Future research to increase cost-effectiveness by better targeting of monitoring and/or evaluating implementation of less costly point-of-care tests will contribute to long-term success of ART while continuing to increase ART coverage.

Original publication




Journal article


Curr Opin Infect Dis

Publication Date





27 - 33


Anti-HIV Agents, Antiretroviral Therapy, Highly Active, CD4 Lymphocyte Count, Drug Monitoring, HIV, HIV Infections, Humans, RNA, Viral, Treatment Failure, Treatment Outcome, Viral Load