To identify demographic and clinical risk factors associated with mortality after initiation of antiretroviral therapy (ART) in a cohort of human immunodeficiency (HIV) infected children in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa.
We performed a retrospective cohort study of 537 children initiating antiretroviral therapy at McCord Hospital in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa. Data were extracted from electronic medical records and risk factors associated with mortality were assessed using Cox regression analysis.
Overall there were 47 deaths from the cohort of 537 children initiating ART with over 991 child-years of follow-up (median 22 months on ART), yielding a mortality rate of 4.7 deaths per 100 child years on ART. Univariate analysis indicated that mortality was significantly associated with lower weight-for-age Z-score (p<0.0001), chronic diarrhea (p = 0.0002), lower hemoglobin (p = 0.002), age <3 years (p = 0.003), and CD4% <10% (p = 0.005). The final multivariable Cox proportional hazards mortality model found age less than 3 years (p = 0.004), CD4 <10% (p = 0.01), chronic diarrhea (p = 0.03), weight-for-age Z-score (<0.0001) and female gender as a covariate varying with time (p = 0.03) all significantly associated with mortality.
In addition to recognized risk factors such as young age and advanced immunosuppression, we found female gender to be significantly associated with mortality in this pediatric ART cohort. Future studies are needed to determine whether intrinsic biologic differences or socio-cultural factors place female children with HIV at increased risk of death following initiation of ART.
To describe infant mortality trends and associated factors among infants born to mothers enrolled in a prevention of mother-to-child transmission (PMTCT) program.
A nested case–control study of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)-positive and -negative pregnant women enrolled from the national PMTCT program at 36 weeks of gestation attending three peri-urban clinics in Zimbabwe offering maternal and child health care. Mother–infant pairs were followed up from delivery, and at 6 weeks, 4 months and 9 months.
A total of 1045 mother and singleton infant pairs, 474 HIV-positive and 571 HIV-negative mothers, delivered 469 and 569 live infants, respectively. Differences in mortality were at 6 weeks and 4 months, RR (95% CI) 9.71 (1.22 to 77.32) and 21.84 (2.93 to 162.98), respectively. Overall, 9-month mortality rates were 150 and 47 per 1000 person-years for infants born to HIV-positive and HIV-negative mothers, respectively. Proportional hazard ratio of mortality for children born to HIV-positive mothers was 3.21 (1.91 to 5.38) when compared with that for children born to HIV-negative mothers.
Maternal HIV exposure was associated with higher mortality in the first 4 months of life. Infant's HIV status was the strongest predictor of infant mortality. There is a need to screen infants for HIV from delivery and throughout breastfeeding.
infant mortality; HIV; PMTCT; risk factors; follow-up
Loss to follow-up is a major challenge in the prevention of mother to child transmission of HIV (PMTCT) programme in Malawi with reported loss to follow-up of greater than 70%. Tingathe-PMTCT is a pilot intervention that utilizes dedicated community health workers (CHWs) to create a complete continuum of care within the PMTCT cascade, improving service utilization and retention of mothers and infants. We describe the impact of the intervention on longitudinal care starting with diagnosis of the mother at antenatal care (ANC) through final diagnosis of the infant.
PMTCT service utilization, programme retention and outcomes were evaluated for pregnant women living with HIV and their exposed infants enrolled in the Tingathe-PMTCT programme between March 2009 and March 2011. Multivariate logistic regression was done to evaluate maternal factors associated with failure to complete the cascade.
Over 24 months, 1688 pregnant women living with HIV were enrolled. Median maternal age was 27 years (IQR, 23.8 to 30.8); 333 (19.7%) were already on ART. Among the remaining women, 1328/1355 (98%) received a CD4 test, with 1243/1328 (93.6%) receiving results. Of the 499 eligible for ART, 363 (72.8%) were successfully initiated. Prior to, delivery there were 93 (5.7%) maternal/foetal deaths, 137 (8.1%) women transferred/moved, 51 (3.0%) were lost and 58 (3.4%) refused ongoing PMTCT services. Of the 1318 live births to date, 1264 (95.9%) of the mothers and 1285 (97.5%) of the infants received ARV prophylaxis; 1064 (80.7%) infants were tested for HIV by PCR and started on cotrimoxazole. Median age at PCR was 1.7 months (IQR, 1.5 to 2.5). Overall transmission at first PCR was 43/1047 (4.1%). Of the 43 infants with positive PCR results, 36 (83.7%) were enrolled in ART clinic and 33 (76.7%) were initiated on ART.
Case management and support by dedicated CHWs can create a continuum of longitudinal care in the PMTCT cascade and result in improved outcomes.
prevention of mother to child transmission (PMTCT); early infant diagnosis (EID); paediatric HIV; HIV; task shifting; community engagement; community health workers; retention; loss to follow up
To identify baseline demographic and clinical risk factors associated with poor CD4 and weight response after initiation of antiretroviral therapy (ART) in a cohort of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)-infected children in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa.
We performed a retrospective cohort study of 674 children initiating antiretroviral therapy at McCord and St. Mary's hospitals in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa, from August 2003 to December 2008.
We extracted data from paper charts and electronic medical records to assess risk factors associated with CD4 and weight response using logistic regression.
From the initial cohort of 901 children <10 years old initiating ART between August 2003 and December 2008, we analyzed 674 children with complete baseline data. Viral suppression rates (<400 copies/ml) were 84% after six months of therapy and 88% after 12 months of therapy. Seventy-three percent of children achieved CD4 recovery after six months and 89% after 12 months. Weight-for-age Z-score (WAZ) improvements were seen in 58% of children after six months of ART and 64% after 12 months. After six months of ART, lower baseline hemoglobin (p = 0.037), presence of chronic diarrhea (p = 0.007), and virologic failure (p = 0.046) were all associated with poor CD4 recovery by multivariate logistic regression. After 12 months of ART, poor CD4 recovery was associated with higher baseline CD4% (p = 0.005), chronic diarrhea (p = 0.02), and virologic failure (p<0.001). Age less than 3 years at ART initiation (p = 0.0003), higher baseline CD4% (p<0.001), and higher baseline WAZ (p<0.001) were all associated with poor WAZ improvements after 6 months by multivariate logistic regression.
The presence of chronic diarrhea at baseline, independent of nutritional status and viral response, predicts poor CD4 recovery. Age at initiation of ART is an important factor in early WAZ response to ART, while viral suppression strongly predicts CD4 recovery but not WAZ improvement.
Complete follow up is an essential component of observational cohorts irrespective of the type of disease.
To describe five years follow up of mother and child pairs on a PMTCT program, highlighting loss to follow up (LTFU) and mortality (attrition).
A cohort of pregnant women was enrolled from the national PMTCT program at 36 weeks gestational age attending three peri urban clinics around Harare offering maternal and child health services. Mother-infant pairs were followed up from birth and twice yearly for five years.
A total of 479 HIV infected and 571 HIV negative pregnant women were enrolled, 445(92.9%) and 495(86.6%) were followed up whereas 14(3.0%) and 3(0.5%) died in the 1st year respectively; RR (95%CI) 5.3(1.5-18.7). At five years 227(56.7%) HIV infected and 239(41.0%) HIV negative mothers turned up, whereas mortality rates were 34 and 7 per 100 person years respectively. Birth information was recorded for 401(83.7%) HIV exposed and 441(77.2%) unexposed infants, 247(51.6%) and 232(40.6) turned up in the first year whilst mortality was 58(12.9%) and 22(4.4%) respectively, RR (95%CI) 3.2(2.0-5.4). At five years 210(57.5%) HIV exposed and 239(44.3%) unexposed infants were seen, whilst mortality rates were 53 per 1000 and 15 per 1 000 person years respectively. Mortality rate for HIV infected children was 112 compared to 21 per 1 000 person years for the exposed but uninfected.
HIV infected mothers and their children succumbed to mortality whereas the HIV negatives were LTFU. Mortality rates and LTFU are high within PMTCT program.
HIV; Follow up; Mortality; PMTCT.
Antiretroviral therapy is effective in reducing rates of mother-to child transmission of HIV to low levels in resource-limited contexts but the applicability and efficacy of these programs in the field are scarcely known. In order to explore such issues, we performed a descriptive study on retrospective data from hospital records of HIV-infected pregnant women who accessed in 2007–2010 the Luanda Municipal Hospital service for prevention of mother-to-child transmission (PMTCT). The main outcome measure was infant survival and HIV transmission. Our aim was to evaluate PMTCT programme in a local hospital setting in Africa.
Data for 104 pregnancies and 107 infants were analysed. Sixty-eight women (65.4%) had a first visit before or during pregnancy and received combination antiretroviral treatment (ART) in pregnancy. The remaining 36 women (34.6%) presented after delivery and received no ART during pregnancy. Across a median cohort follow-up time of 73 weeks, mortality among women with and without ART in pregnancy was 4.4% and 16.7%, respectively (death hazard ratio: 0.30, 95% CI 0.07–1.20, p = 0.089). The estimated rates of HIV transmission or death in the infants over a median follow up time of 74 weeks were 8.5% with maternal ART during pregnancy and 38.9% without maternal ART during pregnancy. Following adjustment for use of oral zidovudine in the newborn and exposure to maternal milk, no ART in pregnancy remained associated with a 5-fold higher infant risk of HIV transmission or death (adjusted odds ratio: 5.13, 95% CI: 1.31–20.15, p = 0.019).
Among the women and infants adhering to the PMTCT programme, HIV transmission and mortality were low. However, many women presented too late for PMTCT, and about 20% of infants did not complete follow up. This suggests the need of targeted interventions that maintain the access of mothers and infants to prevention and care services for HIV.
Despite the availability of a dual therapy treatment protocol and infant feeding guidelines designed to prevent mother to child transmission (PMTCT) of HIV, of the over 1 million babies born in South Africa each year, only 70% of those born to HIV positive mothers receive dual therapy. Similar to other resource-poor nations facing the integration of PMTCT into routine pregnancy and infant care, efforts in South Africa to scale up PMTCT and reduce transmission to < 5% have fallen far short of the United Nation's goal of 50% reductions in paediatric HIV by 80% coverage of mothers.
This study proposes to evaluate the impact of combining two evidence-based interventions: a couple's risk reduction intervention with an evidence based medication adherence intervention to enhance male participation in combination with improving medication and PMTCT adherence in antenatal clinics to increase PMTCT overall reach and effectiveness. The study will use a group-randomized design, recruiting 240 couples from 12 clinics. Clinics will be randomly assigned to experimental and control conditions and effectiveness of the combined intervention to enhance PMTCT as well as reduce antenatal seroconversion by both individuals and clinics will be examined.
Shared intervention elements may decrease sexual risk and enhance PMTCT uptake, e.g., increased male participation, enhanced communication, HIV counselling and testing, adherence, serostatus disclosure, suggest that a combined sexual risk reduction and adherence intervention plus PMTCT can increase male participation, increase couples' communication and encourage adherence to the PMTCT process. The findings will impact public health and will enable the health ministry to formulate policy related to male involvement in PMTCT, which will result in PMTCT.
Rates of pregnancy and HIV infection are high among South African adolescents, yet little is known about rates of mother-to-child transmission of HIV (MTCT) in this group. We report a comparison of the characteristics of adolescent mothers and adult mothers, including HIV prevalence and MTCT rates.
We examined patterns of health service utilization during the antenatal and early postnatal period, HIV prevalence and MTCT amongst adolescent (<20-years-old) and adult (20 to 39-years-old) mothers with infants aged ≤16 weeks attending immunization clinics in six districts of KwaZulu-Natal between May 2008 and April 2009.
Interviews were conducted with 19,093 mothers aged between 12 and 39 years whose infants were aged ≤16 weeks. Most mothers had attended antenatal care four or more times during their last pregnancy (80.3%), and reported having an HIV test (98.2%). A greater proportion of HIV-infected adult mothers, compared to adolescent mothers, reported themselves as HIV-positive (41.2% vs. 15.9%, p<0.0001), reported having a CD4 count taken during their pregnancy (81.0% vs. 66.5%, p<0.0001), and having received the CD4 count result (84.4% vs. 75.7%, p<0.0001). Significantly fewer adolescent mothers received the recommended PMTCT regimen. HIV antibody was detected in 40.4% of 7,800 infants aged 4–8 weeks tested for HIV, indicating HIV exposure. This was higher among infants of adult mothers (47.4%) compared to adolescent mothers (17.9%, p<0.0001). The MTCT rate at 4–8 weeks of age was significantly higher amongst infants of adolescent mothers compared to adult mothers (35/325 [10.8%] vs. 185/2,800 [6.1%], OR 1.7, 95% CI 1.2–2.4).
Despite high levels of antenatal clinic attendance among pregnant adolescents in KwaZulu-Natal, the MTCT risk is higher among infants of HIV-infected adolescent mothers compared to adult mothers. Access to adolescent-friendly family planning and PMTCT services should be prioritised for this vulnerable group.
Prevention of mother to child HIV transmission (PMTCT) programmes have great potential to achieve virtual elimination of perinatal HIV transmission provided that PMTCT recommendations are properly followed. This study assessed mothers and infants adherence to medication regimen for PMTCT and the proportions of exposed infants who were followed up in the PMTCT programme.
A prospective cohort study was conducted among 282 HIV-positive mothers attending 15 health facilities in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. Descriptive statistics, bivariate and mulitivariate logistic regression analyses were done.
Of 282 mothers enrolled in the cohort, 232 (82%, 95% CI 77-86%) initiated medication during pregnancy, 154 (64%) initiated combined zidovudine (ZDV) prophylaxis regimen while 78 (33%) were initiated lifelong antiretroviral treatment (ART). In total, 171 (60%, 95% CI 55-66%) mothers ingested medication during labour. Of the 221 live born infants (including two sets of twins), 191 (87%, 95% CI 81-90%) ingested ZDV and single-dose nevirapine (sdNVP) at birth. Of the 219 live births (twin births were counted once), 148 (68%, 95% CI 61-73%) mother-infant pairs ingested their medication at birth. Medication ingested by mother-infant pairs at birth was significantly and independently associated with place of delivery. Mother-infant pairs attended in health facilities at birth were more likely (OR 6.7 95% CI 2.90-21.65) to ingest their medication than those who were attended at home. Overall, 189 (86%, 95% CI 80-90%) infants were brought for first pentavalent vaccine and 115 (52%, 95% CI 45-58%) for early infant diagnosis at six-weeks postpartum. Among the infants brought for early diagnosis, 71 (32%, 95% CI 26-39%) had documented HIV test results and six (8.4%) were HIV positive.
We found a progressive decline in medication adherence across the perinatal period. There is a big gap between mediation initiated during pregnancy and actually ingested by the mother-infant pairs at birth. Follow up for HIV-exposed infants seem not to be organized and is inconsistent. In order to maximize effectiveness of the PMTCT programme, the rate of institutional delivery should be increased, the quality of obstetric services should be improved and missed opportunities to exposed infant follow up should be minimized.
Breastfeeding is a critical component of interventions to reduce child mortality. Exclusive breastfeeding practice is extremely low in South Africa and there has been no improvement in this over the past ten years largely due to fears of HIV transmission. Early cessation of breastfeeding has been found to have negative effects on child morbidity and survival in several studies in Africa. This paper reports on determinants of early breastfeeding cessation among women in South Africa.
This is a sub group analysis of a community-based cluster-randomized trial (PROMISE EBF) promoting exclusive breastfeeding in three South African sites (Paarl in the Western Cape Province, and Umlazi and Rietvlei in KwaZulu-Natal) between 2006 and 2008 (ClinicalTrials.gov no: NCT00397150). Infant feeding recall of 22 food and fluid items was collected at 3, 6, 12 and 24 weeks postpartum. Women’s experiences of breast health problems were also collected at the same time points. 999 women who ever breastfed were included in the analysis. Univariable and multivariable logistic regression analysis adjusting for site, arm and cluster, was performed to determine predictors of stopping breastfeeding by 12 weeks postpartum.
By 12 weeks postpartum, 20% of HIV-negative women and 40% of HIV-positive women had stopped all breastfeeding. About a third of women introduced other fluids, most commonly formula milk, within the first 3 days after birth. Antenatal intention not to breastfeed and being undecided about how to feed were most strongly associated with stopping breastfeeding by 12 weeks (Adjusted odds ratio, AOR 5.6, 95% CI 3.4 – 9.5 and AOR 4.1, 95% CI 1.6 – 10.8, respectively). Also important was self-reported breast health problems associated with a 3-fold risk of stopping breastfeeding (AOR 3.1, 95%CI 1.7 – 5.7) and the mother having her own income doubled the risk of stopping breastfeeding (AOR 1.9, 95% CI 1.3 – 2.8).
Early cessation of breastfeeding is common amongst both HIV-negative and positive women in South Africa. There is an urgent need to improve antenatal breastfeeding counselling taking into account the challenges faced by working women as well as early postnatal lactation support to prevent breast health problems.
Operational effectiveness of large-scale national programmes for the prevention of mother to child transmission (PMTCT) of HIV in sub-Saharan Africa remains limited. We report on HIV-free survival among nine- to 24-month-old children born to HIV-positive mothers in the national PMTCT programme in Rwanda.
We conducted a national representative household survey between February and May 2009. Participants were mothers who had attended antenatal care at least once during their most recent pregnancy, and whose children were aged nine to 24 months. A two-stage stratified (geographic location of PMTCT site, maternal HIV status during pregnancy) cluster sampling was used to select mother-infant pairs to be interviewed during household visits. Alive children born from HIV-positive mothers (HIV-exposed children) were tested for HIV according to routine HIV testing protocol. We calculated HIV-free survival at nine to 24 months. We subsequently determined factors associated with mother to child transmission of HIV, child death and HIV-free survival using logistic regression.
Out of 1448 HIV-exposed children surveyed, 44 (3.0%) were reported dead by nine months of age. Of the 1340 children alive, 53 (4.0%) tested HIV positive. HIV-free survival was estimated at 91.9% (95% confidence interval: 90.4-93.3%) at nine to 24 months. Adjusting for maternal, child and health system factors, being a member of an association of people living with HIV (adjusted odds ratio: 0.7, 95% CI: 0.1-0.995) improved by 30% HIV-free survival among children, whereas the maternal use of a highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART) regimen for PMTCT (aOR: 0.6, 95% CI: 0.3-1.07) had a borderline effect.
HIV-free survival among HIV-exposed children aged nine to 24 months is estimated at 91.9% in Rwanda. The national PMTCT programme could achieve greater impact on child survival by ensuring access to HAART for all HIV-positive pregnant women in need, improving the quality of the programme in rural areas, and strengthening linkages with community-based support systems, including associations of people living with HIV.
children and HIV; vertical transmission of HIV; PMTCT; programme effectiveness; elimination of MTCT, HIV-free survival; Africa, Rwanda
Recent changes to South Africa's prevention of mother-to-child transmission of HIV (PMTCT) guidelines have raised hope that the national goal of reducing perinatal HIV transmission rates to less than 5% can be attained. While programmatic efforts to reach this target are underway, obtaining complete and accurate data from clinical sites to track progress presents a major challenge. We assessed the completeness and accuracy of routine PMTCT data submitted to the district health information system (DHIS) in three districts of Kwazulu-Natal province, South Africa.
We surveyed the completeness and accuracy of data reported for six key PMTCT data elements between January and December 2007 from all 316 clinics and hospitals in three districts. Through visits to randomly selected sites, we reconstructed reports for the same six PMTCT data elements from clinic registers and assessed accuracy of the monthly reports previously submitted to the DHIS. Data elements were reported only 50.3% of the time and were “accurate” (i.e. within 10% of reconstructed values) 12.8% of the time. The data element “Antenatal Clients Tested for HIV” was the most accurate data element (i.e. consistent with the reconstructed value) 19.8% of the time, while “HIV PCR testing of baby born to HIV positive mother” was the least accurate with only 5.3% of clinics meeting the definition of accuracy.
Data collected and reported in the public health system across three large, high HIV-prevalence Districts was neither complete nor accurate enough to track process performance or outcomes for PMTCT care. Systematic data evaluation can determine the magnitude of the data reporting failure and guide site-specific improvements in data management. Solutions are currently being developed and tested to improve data quality.
Data comparing survival of formula-fed to breast-fed infants in programmatic settings are limited. We compared mortality and HIV-free of breast and formula-fed infants born to HIV-positive mothers in a program in rural, Rakai District Uganda.
One hundred eighty two infants born to HIV-positive mothers were followed at one, six and twelve months postpartum. Mothers were given infant-feeding counseling and allowed to make informed choices as to whether to formula-feed or breast-feed. Eligible mothers and infants received antiretroviral therapy (ART) if indicated. Mothers and their newborns received prophylaxis for prevention of mother-to-child HIV transmission (pMTCT) if they were not receiving ART. Infant HIV infection was detected by PCR (Roche Amplicor 1.5) during the follow-up visits. Kaplan Meier time-to-event methods were used to compare mortality and HIV-free survival. The adjusted hazard ratio (Adjusted HR) of infant HIV-free survival was estimated by Cox regression. Seventy-five infants (41%) were formula-fed while 107 (59%) were breast-fed. Exclusive breast-feeding was practiced by only 25% of breast-feeding women at one month postpartum. The cumulative 12-month probability of infant mortality was 18% (95% CI = 11%–29%) among the formula-fed compared to 3% (95% CI = 1%–9%) among the breast-fed infants (unadjusted hazard ratio (HR) = 6.1(95% CI = 1.7–21.4, P-value<0.01). There were no statistically significant differentials in HIV-free survival by feeding choice (86% in the formula-fed compared to 96% in breast-fed group (Adjusted RH = 2.8[95%CI = 0.67–11.7, P-value = 0.16]
Formula-feeding was associated with a higher risk of infant mortality than breastfeeding in this rural population. Our findings suggest that formula-feeding should be discouraged in similar African settings.
Breastfeeding remains normative and vital for child survival in the developing world. However, knowledge of the risk of Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) transmission through breastfeeding has brought to attention the controversy of whether breastfeeding can be safely practiced by HIV positive mothers. Prevention of mother to child transmission (PMTCT) programs provide prevention services to HIV positive mothers including infant feeding counseling based on international guidelines. This study aimed at exploring infant feeding choices and how breastfeeding and the risk of HIV transmission through breastfeeding was interpreted among HIV positive mothers and their counselors in PMTCT programs in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.
The study was conducted in the PMTCT clinics in two governmental hospitals in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, using qualitative interviews and participant observation. Twenty two HIV positive mothers and ten health professionals working in PMTCT clinics were interviewed.
The study revealed that HIV positive mothers have developed an immense fear of breast milk which is out of proportion compared to the evidence of risk of transmission documented. The fear is expressed through avoidance of breastfeeding or, if no other choice is available, through an intense unease with the breastfeeding situation, and through expressions of sin, guilt, blame and regret. Health professionals working in the PMTCT programs seemed to largely share the fear of HIV positive mother's breast milk, and their anxiety was reflected in the counseling services they provided. Formula feeding was the preferred infant feeding method, and was chosen also by HIV positive women who had to beg in the streets for survival.
The fear of breast milk that seems to have developed among counselors and HIV positive mothers in the wake of the HIV epidemic may challenge a well established breastfeeding culture and calls for public health action. Based on strong evidence of the risks when infants are not exclusively breastfed, there is a great need to protect breastfeeding from pressures of replacement feeding and to promote exclusive breastfeeding as the best infant feeding option for HIV positive and HIV negative mothers alike.
In Iganga, Uganda, 45% of women who tested HIV-positive during antenatal care between 2007 and 2010 were lost to follow-up (LTFU). We explored reasons for LTFU during prevention of mother-to-child transmission (PMTCT) from a client perspective in eastern Uganda, where antiretroviral therapy (ART) awareness is presumably high.
Seven key informant interviews and 20 in-depth interviews, including both clients who had been retained under PMTCT care and those LTFU during PMTCT were held. Ten focus-group discussions involving a total of 112 participants were also conducted with caretakers/ relatives of the PMTCT clients. Content analysis was performed to identify recurrent themes.
Our findings indicate that LTFU during PMTCT in eastern Uganda was due to sex inequality, high transport costs to access the services, inadequate posttest counseling, lack of HIV status disclosure, and the isolated/exposed location of the ART clinic, which robs the clients of their privacy.
There is a need for approaches that empower women with social capital, knowledge, and skills to influence health-seeking practices. There is also a need to train low-ranking staff and take PMTCT services closer to the clients at the lower-level units to make them affordable and accessible to rural clients. Posttest counseling should be improved to enable PMTCT clients to appreciate the importance of PMTCT services through increasing the number of staff in antenatal care to match the client numbers for improved quality. The counseling should emphasize HIV status disclosure to partners and encourage partner escort for antenatal care visits for further counseling. The exposed and isolated ART clinic should be integrated with the other regular outpatient services to reduce the labeling stigma.
mother-to-child transmission; HIV; Uganda; sex inequality
Early diagnosis of HIV in infants provides a critical opportunity to strengthen follow-up of HIV-exposed children and assure early access to antiretroviral (ARV) treatment for infected children. This study describes findings from an Early Infant Diagnosis (EID) program and the effectiveness of a prevention of mother-to-child transmission (PMTCT) intervention in six health facilities in Cross-River and Akwa-Ibom states, south-south Nigeria.
This was a retrospective study. Records of 702 perinatally exposed babies aged six weeks to 18 months who had a DNA PCR test between November 2007 and July 2009 were reviewed. Details of the ARV regimen received to prevent mother-to-child transmission (MTCT), breastfeeding choices, HIV test results, turn around time (TAT) for results and post test ART enrolment status of the babies were analysed.
Two-thirds of mother-baby pairs received ARVs and 560 (80%) babies had ever been breastfed. Transmission rates for mother-baby pairs who received ARVs for PMTCT was 4.8% (CI 1.3, 8.3) at zero to six weeks of age compared to 19.5% (CI 3.0, 35.5) when neither baby nor mother received an intervention. Regardless of intervention, the transmission rates for babies aged six weeks to six months who had mixed feeding was 25.6% (CI 29.5, 47.1) whereas the transmission rates for those who were exclusively breastfed was 11.8% (CI 5.4, 18.1). Vertical transmission of HIV was eight times (AOR 7.8, CI: 4.52-13.19) more likely in the sub-group of mother-baby pairs who did not receive ARVS compared with mother-baby pairs that did receive ARVs. The median TAT for test results was 47 days (IQR: 35-58). A follow-up of 125 HIV positive babies found that 31 (25%) were enrolled into a paediatric ART program, nine (7%) were known to have died before the return of their DNA PCR results, and 85 (67%) could not be traced and were presumed to be lost-to-follow-up.
Reduction of MTCT of HIV is possible with effective PMTCT interventions, including improved access to ARVs for PMTCT and appropriate infant feeding practices. Loss to follow up of HIV exposed infants is a challenge and requires strategies to enhance retention.
Mother-to-child transmission of HIV; early infant diagnosis; vertical transmission; breastfeeding; pediatric HIV
To assess the uptake of HIV testing among preschool children with HIV positive mothers in a peri-urban population-based study in KwaZulu-Natal (KZN), South Africa, an area of high HIV prevalence.
All children four to six years old and their primary caregivers from the area were invited to participate. All participants were asked about prior HIV testing and were offered counseling and voluntary HIV testing irrespective of previous testing. 27 HIV-infected mothers were interviewed to identify barriers to testing their children.
1583 children (88% of eligible children) and their caregivers participated. Of the biological mothers, 86% were previously tested for HIV (27% tested positive). Among the surviving 244 children born to an infected mother only 41% had been tested for HIV (23% tested positive). Subsequently, 90% of previously untested children of infected mothers underwent HIV testing (9.3% were positive). Overall seroprevalence among study children was 4.9%. All infected mothers interviewed endorsed the belief that children of HIV-infected women should be tested for HIV. Women who missed opportunities for antenatal HIV testing reported no systematic testing of their children at later ages.
In this community with high HIV prevalence, HIV testing of children is infrequent despite high testing coverage among caregivers. The low proportion of children tested for HIV, particularly those of infected mothers, is of great concern as they are at high risk for morbidity and mortality associated with untreated childhood HIV infection. HIV testing programs should strengthen protocols to include children, especially for those who missed PMTCT opportunities in infancy.
HIV testing; pre-school children; mothers; caregivers; South Africa
HIV-infected and HIV-exposed, uninfected infants experience a high burden of infectious morbidity and mortality. Hospitalization is an important metric for morbidity and is associated with high mortality, yet, little is known about rates and causes of hospitalization among these infants in the first 12 months of life.
Using data from a prevention of mother-to-child transmission (PMTCT) trial (India SWEN), where HIV-exposed breastfed infants were given extended nevirapine, we measured 12-month infant all-cause and cause-specific hospitalization rates and hospitalization risk factors.
Among 737 HIV-exposed Indian infants, 93 (13%) were HIV-infected, 15 (16%) were on HAART, and 260 (35%) were hospitalized 381 times by 12 months of life. Fifty-six percent of the hospitalizations were attributed to infections; gastroenteritis was most common accounting for 31% of infectious hospitalizations. Gastrointestinal-related hospitalizations steadily increased over time, peaking around 9 months. The 12-month all-cause hospitalization, gastroenteritis-related hospitalization, and in-hospital mortality rates were 906/1000 PY, 229/1000 PY, and 35/1000 PY respectively among HIV-infected infants and 497/1000 PY, 107/1000 PY, and 3/1000 PY respectively among HIV-exposed, uninfected infants. Advanced maternal age, infant HIV infection, gestational age, and male sex were associated with higher all-cause hospitalization risk while shorter duration of breastfeeding and abrupt weaning were associated with gastroenteritis-related hospitalization.
HIV-exposed Indian infants experience high rates of all-cause and infectious hospitalization (particularly gastroenteritis) and in-hospital mortality. HIV-infected infants are nearly 2-fold more likely to experience hospitalization and 10-fold more likely to die compared to HIV-exposed, uninfected infants. The combination of scaling up HIV PMTCT programs and implementing proven health measures against infections could significantly reduce hospitalization morbidity and mortality among HIV-exposed Indian infants.
Infant; HIV; India; Hospitalization; In-hospital Mortality; gastroenteritis; pneumonia
HIV and AIDS, in resource-limited settings, contribute to increased maternal and infant mortality where such vital indicators are already high. In these settings, babies born to HIV-positive women continue to have added risks of acquiring HIV infection and dying from it before their fifth birthdays if no interventions are employed. Prevention of mother-to-child transmission (PMTCT) is an international initiative whose implications within the local context need to be known. An operational research approach was adopted to study the demand and adherence of key components within the PMTCT Programme among women in rural Malawi. This study was carried out at Malamulo SDA Hospital in rural Malawi and employed the mixture of both quantitative and qualitative approaches. While the introduction of innovative policies in antenatal care (ANC) that has positive impact particularly on marginalised women's access to the services, negative effects are also inevitable. Marginalised women in resource-poor settings fail to deliver at the health facility due to lack of transportation, economic difficulties, gender inequalities, tradition and negative attitude of health workers. Integration of HIV testing and opt-out testing in ANC coupled with the introduction of free maternal care resulted in more women accessing maternal services and PMTCT services. It is as a result of this that institutional delivery facilitates increased adherence to antiretroviral prophylaxis and is supported by both women and the communities. The paper summarises the research conducted and elaborates on how it contributed to actions to improve staff attitude, increase male involvement in reproductive health care and discussions on how available resources can be maximised.
HIV and AIDS; PMTCT; policies; antenatal care; rural Malawi
Globally, 40% of the 7.6 million deaths of children under five every year occur in the neonatal period (first 28 days after birth). Increased and earlier recognition of illness facilitated by community health workers (CHWs), coupled with effective referral systems can result in better child health outcomes. This model has not been tested in a peri-urban poor setting in Africa, or in a high HIV context.
The Good Start Saving Newborn Lives (SNL) study (ISRCTN41046462) conducted in Umlazi, KwaZulu-Natal, was a community randomized trial to assess the effect of an integrated home visit package delivered to mothers by CHWs during pregnancy and post-delivery on uptake of PMTCT interventions and appropriate newborn care practices. CHWs were trained to refer babies with illnesses or identified danger signs. The aim of this sub-study was to assess the effectiveness of this referral system by describing CHW referral completion rates as well as mothers’ health-care seeking practices. Interviews were conducted using a structured questionnaire with all mothers whose babies had been referred by a CHW since the start of the SNL trial. Descriptive analysis was conducted to describe referral completion and health seeking behaviour of mothers.
Of the 2423 women enrolled in the SNL study, 148 sick infants were referred between June 2008 and June 2010. 62% of referrals occurred during the first 4 weeks of life and 22% between birth and 2 weeks of age. Almost all mothers (95%) completed the referral as advised by CHWs. Difficulty breathing, rash and redness/discharge around the cord accounted for the highest number of referrals (26%, 19% and 17% respectively). Only16% of health workers gave written feedback on the outcome of the referral to the referring CHW.
We found high compliance with CHW referral of sick babies in an urban South African township. This suggests that CHWs can play a significant role, within community outreach teams, to improve newborn health and reduce child mortality. This supports the current primary health care re-engineering process being undertaken by the South African National Department of Health which involves the establishment of family health worker teams including CHWs.
Trial registration number
Health seeking behaviour; Child health; Neonate; Newborn; Community health workers; Referral completion; Primary health care; Urban health; HIV
In South Africa, the severity of the HIV/AIDS epidemic varies according to geographical location; hence, localized monitoring of the epidemic would enable more effective prevention strategies. Our objectives were to assess the core areas of HIV infection in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa, using epidemiological data among sexually active women from localized communities.
A total of 5753 women from urban, peri-rural and rural communities in KwaZulu-Natal were screened from 2002 to 2005. Each participant was geocoded using a global information system, based on residence at time of screening. The Spatial Scan Statistics programme was used to identify areas with disproportionate excesses in HIV prevalence and incidence.
This study identified three hotspots with excessively high HIV prevalence rates of 56%, 51% and 39%. A total of 458 sexually active women (19% of all cases) were included in these hotspots, and had been exclusively recruited by the Botha's Hill (west of Durban) and Umkomaas (south of Durban) clinic sites. Most of these women were Christian and Zulu-speaking. They were also less likely to be married than women outside these areas (12% vs. 16%, p = 0.001) and more likely to have sex more than three times a week (27% vs. 20%, p < 0.001) and to have had more than three sexual partners (55% vs. 45%, p < 0.001). Diagnosis of genital herpes simplex virus type 2 was also more common in the hotspots. This study also identified areas of high HIV incidence, which were broadly consistent with those with high prevalence rates.
Geographic excesses of HIV infections at rates among the highest in the world were detected in certain rural communities of Durban, South Africa. The results reinforce the inference that risk of HIV infection is associated with definable geographical areas. Localized monitoring of the epidemic is therefore essential for more effective prevention strategies - and particularly urgent in a region such as KwaZulu-Natal, where the epidemic is particularly rampant.
Health systems that deliver prevention of mother to child transmission (PMTCT) services in low and middle income countries continue to underperform, resulting in thousands of unnecessary HIV infections of newborns each year. We used a combination of approaches to health systems strengthening to reduce transmission of HIV from mother to infant in a multi-facility public health system in South Africa.
All primary care sites and specialized birthing centers in a resource constrained sub-district of Cape Metro District, South Africa, were enrolled in a quality improvement (QI) programme. All pregnant women receiving antenatal, intrapartum and postnatal infant care in the sub-district between January 2006 and March 2009 were included in the intervention that had a prototype-innovation phase and a rapid spread phase. System changes were introduced to help frontline healthcare workers to identify and improve performance gaps at each step of the PMTCT pathway. Improvement was facilitated and spread through the use of a Breakthrough Series Collaborative that accelerated learning and the spread of successful changes. Protocol changes and additional resources were introduced by provincial and municipal government. The proportion of HIV-exposed infants testing positive declined from 7.6% to 5%. Key intermediate PMTCT processes improved (antenatal AZT increased from 74% to 86%, PMTCT clients on HAART at the time of labour increased from 10% to 25%, intrapartum AZT increased from 43% to 84%, and postnatal HIV testing from 79% to 95%) compared to baseline.
System improvement methods, protocol changes and addition/reallocation of resources contributed to improved PMTCT processes and outcomes in a resource constrained setting. The intervention requires a clear design, leadership buy-in, building local capacity to use systems improvement methods, and a reliable data system. A systems improvement approach offers a much needed approach to rapidly improve under-performing PMTCT implementation programmes at scale in sub-Saharan Africa.
With improved access to pediatric antiretroviral therapy (ART) in resource-limited settings, more children could experience first-line ART treatment failure.
We performed a retrospective cohort analysis using electronic medical records from HIV-infected children who initiated ART at McCord Hospital's Sinikithemba Clinic in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa, from August 2003 to December 2010. We analyzed all records from children who began second-line ART due to first-line treatment failure. We used logistic regression to compare viral outcomes in Protease Inhibitor (PI)-based versus Non-Nucleoside Reverse Transcriptase Inhibitor (NNRTI)-based second-line ART, controlling for time on first-line ART, sex, and whether HIV genotyping guided the regimen change.
Of the 880 children who initiated ART during this time period, 80 (9.1%) switched to second-line ART due to therapeutic failure of first-line ART after a median of 95 weeks (IQR 65–147 weeks). Eight (10%) of the failures received NNRTI-based second-line ART, all of whom failed a PI-based first-line regimen. Seventy (87.5%) received PI-based second-line ART, all of whom failed a NNRTI-based first-line regimen. Two children (2.5%) received non-standard dual therapy as second-line ART. Six months after switching ART regimens, the viral suppression rate was significantly higher in the PI group (82%) than in the NNRTI group (29%; p = 0.003). Forty-one children (51%) were tested for genotypic resistance prior to switching to second-line ART. There was no significant difference in six month viral suppression (p = 0.38) between children with and without genotype testing.
Conclusion: NNRTI-based second-line ART carries a high risk of virologic failure compared to PI-based second-line ART.
To achieve the goal of United Nations of elimination of new HIV infections, a program of prevention of mother-to-child transmission (PMTCT) was launched in Guangdong province. The objective of this study is to evaluate the effectiveness of the PMTCT program.
The retrospective cross-section analysis was conducted using the data of case reported cards of HIV positive mothers and their infants from 2007 to 2010 in Guangdong province, and 108 pairs of eligible subjects were obtained. We described the data and compared the rates of MTCT by various PMTCT interventions respectively.
The overall rate of HIV MTCT was 13.89% (15) among 108 pairs of HIV positive mothers and their infants; 60.19% (65) of the mothers ever received ARVs, 80.56% (87) of infants born to HIV positive mothers ever received ARVs, but 16.67% (18) of the mothers and infants neither received ARVs. Among all the mothers and infants, who both received ARVs, received triple ARVs, mother received ARVs during pregnancy, and both received ARVs and formula feeding showed the lower rates of HIV MTCT, and the rates were 8.06%, 2.50%, 5.77%, and 6.67% respectively. In infants born to HIV positive mother, who received mixed feeding had a higher HIV MTCT up to 60.00%. Delivery mode might not relative to HIV MTCT.
The interventions of PMTCT program in Guangdong could effectively reduce the rate of HIV MTCT, but the effectiveness of the PMTCT program were heavily cut down by the lower availability of the PMTCT interventions.
HIV/AIDS; Mother to children transmission (MTCT); Anti-retroviral (ARV); Effectiveness of PMTCT
Partner involvement has been deemed fundamental in prevention of mother to child transmission (PMTCT) programmes, but is difficult to achieve. This study aimed to explore acceptability of the PMTCT programme components and to identify structural and cultural challenges to male involvement.
The study was conducted during 2007-2008 in rural and urban areas of Moshi in the Kilimanjaro region of Tanzania. Mixed methods were used, and included focus group discussions with fathers and mothers, in-depth interviews with fathers, mothers and health personnel, and a survey of 426 mothers bringing their four-week-old infants for immunization at five reproductive and child health clinics.
Routine testing for HIV of women at the antenatal clinic was highly acceptable and appreciated by men, while other programme components, notably partner testing, condom use and the infant feeding recommendations, were met with continued resistance. Very few men joined their wives for testing and thus missed out on PMTCT counselling. The main barriers reported were that women did not have the authority to request their husbands to test for HIV and that the arena for testing, the antenatal clinic, was defined as a typical female domain where men were out of place.
Deep-seated ideas about gender roles and hierarchy are major obstacles to male participation in the PMTCT programme. Empowering women remains a huge challenge. Empowering men to participate by creating a space within the PMTCT programme that is male friendly should be feasible and should be highly prioritized for the PMTCT programme to achieve its potential.