Document Type



School of Nursing and Midwifery, East Africa


Background: Patient retention in care and sustained viral load suppression are a cornerstone to improved health and quality of life, among people living with HIV. However, challenges of retention on ART remain among female sex workers (FSWs). We report lost to follow up (LTFU), viral load suppression, and the associated factors among FSWs that access HIV treatment at primary health care facilities in Kampala.

Methods: We retrospectively abstracted and analysed patient management data of HIV positive FSWs who enrolled in care between January 2018 to December 2020. LTFU was defined as failure of a FSW to return for treatment at least 90 days from the date of their last clinic appointment. We defined viral suppression as having a last viral load of ≤ 1000 copies/ml preceding data abstraction. Data were analysed using Stata 15.1 software.

Results: A total of 275 FSWs were included in our study sample. We found low retention of 85.1% (n = 234) at six months, corresponding to LTFU of 14.9 (n = 41) within the same period. Retention decreased with duration of being in care up to 73.5% (n = 202) at 24 months, and this translates to LTFU of 26.5% (n = 73). Viral load testing coverage was 62% (n = 132) and of these, 90.9% (n = 120) were virally suppressed. Factors associated with LTFU in univariable logistic regression; and viral load suppression in multivariable logistic regression models were; having a telephone contact (OR: 0.3, 95% CI: 0.1–0.9 p = 0.031), having enrolled in HIV care aged ≥ 35 years (OR: 0.5, 95% CI: 0.2–1.0 p = 0.048), (OR:0.03, 95%CI: 0.00–0.5, p = 0.016); and having good ART adherence (OR: 0.2, 95% CI: 0.1–0.5 p = 0.001), (OR:24.0, 95% CI: 3.7–153.4 p = 0.001) respectively. Having good ART adherence remained statistically significant (OR: 0.2, 95% CI: 0.08–0.53 p = 0.001) in multivariable logistic regression for LTFU.

Conclusion: This study found low retention among HIV diagnosed FSWs in care. Viral load suppression was accept- able and comparable to that of the general population, however viral load coverage was low. Strategies that increase retention in care and access to viral load testing such as individual client centred care models are vital to improve retention and viral load coverage among FSWs.

Publication (Name of Journal)

BMC Infectious Diseases

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.