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The authors declare that they have no competing interests.
FP and BG conceived the study, undertook data collection, data analysis and manuscript preparation. GR participated in the data analysis and manuscript preparation. MG was involved in the editing of the manuscript. All authors read and approved the final manuscript.
The Pan American Health Organization provides technical cooperation to countries in Latin America and the Caribbean for the scale-up of HIV care and treatment based on the Treatment 2.0 initiative. Fourteen Joint Review Missions (JRMs) were conducted between March 2012 and October 2014. Evaluating the degree of implementation of the recommendations of the JRMs and their impact on health policies, would help countries identify their gaps and areas for priority interventions.
A descriptive analysis of the JRM recommendations was conducted for eight countries. An in-depth cross-sectional retrospective analysis of the degree of implementation of these recommendations in Ecuador, Venezuela, Bolivia, and El Salvador was performed through a standardized self-administered questionnaire applied to key informants. A comparative quantitative analysis on the optimization of antiretroviral regimens ‘before/after’ JRMs was conducted in three of the latter four countries, using data reported in 2013 and 2014.
The priority areas with most recommendations were the optimization of antiretroviral treatment (ART) regimens (n = 57), the rational and efficient use of resources (n = 27) and the provision of point-of-care diagnostics and monitoring tools (n = 26), followed by community mobilization (n = 23), strategic information (n = 17) and the adaptation of delivery services (n = 15). The in-depth analysis in four countries showed that the two priority areas where most progress was observed were the rational and efficient use of resources (62 %) and the optimization of ART regimens (60 %). Adaptation of delivery services, community mobilization and strategic information were rated at 52 % and the provision of point-of-care diagnostics and monitoring tools 38 %. The quantitative analysis on optimization evidenced a 36 % reduction in the number of first-line and second-line ART regimens, a 5.4 % increase in the proportion of patients on WHO-recommended first-line regimens, a 19.4 % increase in the use of the WHO preferred first-line regimen, 51 % increase in the use of WHO-recommended second-line regimens, and a significant reduction in the use of obsolete drugs in first- and second-line regimens (respectively 1 and 9 % of regimens in 2013).
A relatively good level of progress was perceived in the recommendations related to optimization of ART regimens. Challenges remain on the improvement of recommendations related to health system strengthening and the promotion and support aimed at community-based organizations as part of the response to HIV/AIDS in Latin America. The JRMs are a useful mechanism for providing coherent technical support to guide countries in the pursuit of a comprehensive response to HIV/AIDS in the Latin American region.