BMC Public Health

Achieving the UNAIDS 90–90-90 targets: a comparative analysis of four large community randomised trials delivering universal testing and treatment to reduce HIV transmission in sub-Saharan Africa



K. Sabapathy, L. Balzer, J. Larmarange, L. Block, S. Floyd, C. Iwuji, K. Wirth, H. Ayles, S. Fidler, M. Kamya, M. Petersen, D. Havlir, F. Dabis, J. Moore & R. Hayes


Four large community-randomized trials examining universal testing and treatment (UTT) to reduce HIV transmission were conducted between 2012–2018 in Botswana, Kenya, Uganda, Zambia and South Africa. In 2014, the UNAIDS 90–90-90 targets were adopted as a useful metric to monitor coverage. We systematically review the approaches used by the trials to measure intervention delivery, and estimate coverage against the 90–90-90 targets. We aim to provide in-depth understanding of the background contexts and complexities that affect estimation of population-level coverage related to the 90–90-90 targets.

Estimates were based predominantly on “process” data obtained during delivery of the interventions which included a combination of home-based and community-based services. Cascade coverage data included routine electronic health records, self-reported data, survey data, and active ascertainment of HIV viral load measurements in the field.

The estimated total adult populations of trial intervention communities included in this study ranged from 4,290 (TasP) to 142,250 (Zambian PopART Arm-B). The estimated total numbers of PLHIV ranged from 1,283 (TasP) to 20,541 (Zambian PopART Arm-B). By the end of intervention delivery, the first-90 target (knowledge of HIV status among all PLHIV) was met by all the trials (89.2%-94.0%). Three of the four trials also achieved the second- and third-90 targets, and viral suppression in BCPP and SEARCH exceeded the UNAIDS target of 73%, while viral suppression in the Zambian PopART Arm-A and B communities was within a small margin (  3%) of the target.

All four UTT trials aimed to implement wide-scale testing and treatment for HIV prevention at population level and showed substantial increases in testing and treatment for HIV in the intervention communities. This study has not uncovered any one estimation approach which is superior, rather that several approaches are available and researchers or policy makers seeking to measure coverage should reflect on background contexts and complexities that affect estimation of population-level coverage in their specific settings.

All four trials surpassed UNAIDS targets for universal testing in their intervention communities ahead of the 2020 milestone. All but one of the trials also achieved the 90–90 targets for treatment and viral suppression. UTT is a realistic option to achieve 95–95-95 by 2030 and fast-track the end of the HIV epidemic.