Non-clinical outcomes of antiretroviral therapy for HIV/AIDS in developing countries: a systematic literature review
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The impacts of antiretroviral therapy on quality of life, mental health, labor productivity, and economic wellbeing for people living with HIV/AIDS in developing countries are only beginning to be measured. We conducted a systematic literature review to analyze the effect of antiretroviral therapy (ART) on these non-clinical indicators in developing countries and assess the state of research on these topics. Both qualitative and quantitative studies were included, as were peer-reviewed articles, gray literature, and conference abstracts and presentations. Findings are reported from 12 full-length articles, 7 abstracts, and 1 presentation (representing 16 studies). Compared to HIV-positive patients not yet on treatment, patients on ART reported significant improvements in physical, emotional and mental health and daily function. Work performance improved and absenteeism decreased, with the most dramatic changes occurring in the first three months of treatment and then leveling off. Little research has been done on the impact of ART on household wellbeing, with modest changes in child and family wellbeing within households where adults are receiving ART reported so far. Studies from developing countries have not yet assessed non-clinical outcomes of therapy beyond the first year; therefore, longitudinal outcomes are still unknown. As ART roll out extends throughout high HIV prevalence, low-resource countries and is sustained over years and decades, both positive and adverse non-clinical outcomes need to be empirically measured and qualitatively explored in order to support patient adherence and maximize treatment benefits.