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1.  Reducing lost to follow-up in a large clinical trial of prevention of mother-to-child transmission of HIV: The Breastfeeding, Antiretrovirals and Nutrition (BAN) study experience 
Clinical trials (London, England)  2014;12(2):156-165.
Retaining patients in prevention of mother-to-child transmission of HIV studies can be challenging in resource limited settings, where high lost to follow-up (LTFU) rates have been reported. In this paper, we describe the effectiveness of methods used to encourage retention in the Breastfeeding, Antiretrovirals, and Nutrition (BAN) study and analyze factors associated with LTFU in the study.
The BAN clinical trial was designed to evaluate the efficacy of 3 different mother-to-child HIV transmission prevention strategies. Lower than expected participant retention prompted enhanced efforts to reduce LTFU during the conduct of the trial. Following study completion, we employed regression modeling to determine predictors of perfect attendance and variables associated with being LTFU.
During the study, intensive tracing efforts were initiated after the first 1686 mother-infant pairs had been enrolled, and 327 pairs were missing. Sixty of these pairs were located and had complete data obtained. Among the 683 participants enrolling after initiation of intensive tracing efforts, the LTFU rate was 3.4%. At study's end, 290 (12.2%) of the 2369 mother-infant pairs were LTFU. Among successfully traced missing pairs, relocation was common and three were deceased. Log-binomial regression modeling revealed higher maternal hemoglobin and older maternal age to be significant predictors of perfect attendance. These factors and the presence of food insecurity were also significantly associated with lower rates of LTFU.
In this large HIV prevention trial, intensive tracing efforts centered on reaching study participants at their homes succeeded in finding a substantial proportion of LTFU participants, and were very effective in preventing further LTFU during the remainder of the trial. The association between food insecurity and lower rates of LTFU is likely related to the study's provision of nutritional support, including a family maize supplement, which may have contributed to patient retention.
PMCID: PMC4355163  PMID: 25518956
Antiretroviral therapy; human immunodeficiency virus; lost to follow up; prevention of mother to child transmission; retention; tracing
2.  Dried Blood Spots for Viral Load Monitoring in Malawi: Feasible and Effective 
PLoS ONE  2015;10(4):e0124748.
To evaluate the feasibility and effectiveness of dried blood spots (DBS) use for viral load (VL) monitoring, describing patient outcomes and programmatic challenges that are relevant for DBS implementation in sub-Saharan Africa.
We recruited adult antiretroviral therapy (ART) patients from five district hospitals in Malawi. Eligibility reflected anticipated Ministry of Health VL monitoring criteria. Testing was conducted at a central laboratory. Virological failure was defined as >5000 copies/ml. Primary outcomes were program feasibility (timely result availability and patient receipt) and effectiveness (second-line therapy initiation).
We enrolled 1,498 participants; 5.9% were failing at baseline. Median time from enrollment to receipt of results was 42 days; 79.6% of participants received results within 3 months. Among participants with confirmed elevated VL, 92.6% initiated second-line therapy; 90.7% were switched within 365 days of VL testing. Nearly one-third (30.8%) of participants with elevated baseline VL had suppressed (<5,000 copies/ml) on confirmatory testing. Median period between enrollment and specimen testing was 23 days. Adjusting for relevant covariates, participants on ART >4 years were more likely to be failing than participants on therapy 1–4 years (RR 1.7, 95% CI 1.0-2.8); older participants were less likely to be failing (RR 0.95, 95% CI 0.92-0.98). There was no difference in likelihood of failure based on clinical symptoms (RR 1.17, 95% CI 0.65-2.11).
DBS for VL monitoring is feasible and effective in real-world clinical settings. Centralized DBS testing may increase access to VL monitoring in remote settings. Programmatic outcomes are encouraging, especially proportion of eligible participants switched to second-line therapy.
PMCID: PMC4405546  PMID: 25898365
3.  Dietary Patterns and Maternal Anthropometry in HIV-Infected, Pregnant Malawian Women 
Nutrients  2015;7(1):584-594.
Diet is a modifiable factor that can contribute to the health of pregnant women. In a sample of 577 HIV-positive pregnant women who completed baseline interviews for the Breastfeeding, Antiretrovirals, and Nutrition Study in Lilongwe, Malawi, cluster analysis was used to derive dietary patterns. Multiple regression analysis was used to identify associations between the dietary patterns and mid-upper arm circumference (MUAC), arm muscle area (AMA), arm fat area (AFA), and hemoglobin at baseline. Three key dietary patterns were identified: animal-based, plant-based, and grain-based. Women with relatively greater wealth were more likely to consume the animal-based diet, which had the highest intake of energy, protein, and fat and was associated with higher hemoglobin levels compared to the other diets. Women with the lowest wealth were more likely to consume the grain-based diet with the lowest intake of energy, protein, fat, and iron and were more likely to have lower AFA than women on the animal-based and plant-based diets, but higher AMA compared to women on the animal-based diet. Pregnant, HIV-infected women in Malawi could benefit from nutritional support to ensure greater nutrient diversity during pregnancy, when women face increased nutrient demands to support fetal growth and development.
PMCID: PMC4303855  PMID: 25594441
maternal diet; nutrition; pregnancy; HIV; anthropometry; Malawi; cluster analysis
4.  The Health of HIV-exposed Children after Early Weaning 
Maternal & child nutrition  2011;9(2):217-232.
There are potential health risks associated with the use of early weaning to prevent mother-to-child transmission of HIV in resource-poor settings. Our objective was to examine growth and nutrient inadequacies among a cohort of children weaned early. Children participating in the Breastfeeding Antiretrovirals and Nutrition (BAN) Study in Lilongwe, Malawi, had HIV-infected mothers, were weaned at 6 months and fed LNS until 12 months. 40 HIV-negative, BAN-exited children were compared to 40 HIV-negative, community children matched on age, gender and local health clinic. Nutrient intake was calculated from 24-hour dietary recalls collected from BAN-exited children. Anthropometric measurements were collected from BAN-exited and matched community children at 15-16 months, and 2 months later. Longitudinal random effects sex-stratified models were used to evaluate anthropometric differences between the 2 groups. BAN-exited children consumed adequate energy, protein, and carbohydrates but inadequate amounts of fat. The prevalence of inadequate micronutrient intakes were: 46% for vitamin A; 20% for vitamin B6; 69% for folate; 13% for vitamin C; 19% for iron; 23% for zinc. Regarding growth, BAN-exited girls gained weight at a significantly lower rate (0.02g/kg/day [95%CI: 0.01, 0.03] than their matched comparison (0.05g/kg/day [95%CI: 0.03, 0.07]); BAN girls grew significantly slower (0.73cm/month [95%CI: 0.40,1.06]) than their matched comparison (1.55cm/month [95%CI: 0.98, 2.12]). Among this sample of BAN-exited children, early weaning was associated with dietary deficiencies and girls experienced reduced growth velocity. In resource-poor settings, HIV prevention programs must ensure that breastfeeding stop only once a nutritionally adequate and safe diet without breastmilk can be provided.
PMCID: PMC3787136  PMID: 22099216
LNS; early breastfeeding cessation; HIV; Malawi; child growth
5.  Patterns of body composition among HIV-infected, pregnant Malawians and the effects of famine season1 
Maternal and child health journal  2013;17(2):10.1007/s10995-012-0970-6.
We describe change in weight, midupper arm circumference (MUAC), arm muscle area (AMA) and arm fat area (AFA) in 1130 pregnant HIV-infected women with CD4 counts > 200 as part of the BAN Study (, a randomized, controlled clinical trialto evaluate antiretroviral and nutrition interventions to reducemother-to-child transmission of HIV during breast feeding. In a longitudinal analysis, we found a linear increase in weight with a mean rate of weight gain of 0.27 kgs/wk, from baseline (12 to 30 wks gestation) until the last follow-up visit (32 to 38 wks). Analysis of weight gain showed that 17.1% of the intervals between visits resulted in a weight loss. In unadjusted models, MUAC and AMA increased and AFA declined during late pregnancy. Based on multivariable regression analysis, exposure to the famine season resulted in larger losses in AMA [−0.08, 95%CI: −0.14, −0.02; p=0.01] while AFA losses occurred irrespective of season [−0.55, 95%: −0.95, −0.14, p=0.01]. CD4 was associated with AFA [0.21, 95%CI: 0.01, 0.41, p=.04]. Age was positively associated with MUAC and AMA. Wealth index was positively associated with MUAC, AFA, and weight. While patterns of anthropometric measures among HIV-infected, pregnant women were found to be similar to those reported for uninfected women in sub-Saharan Africa, effects of the famine season among undernourished, Malawian women are of concern. Strategies to optimize nutrition during pregnancy for these women appear warranted.
PMCID: PMC3837416  PMID: 22395817
6.  Maternal mid-upper arm circumference is associated with birth weight among HIV-infected Malawians 
We examined the relationship of maternal anthropometry to fetal growth and birth weight among 1005 HIV-infected women in Lilongwe, Malawi, who consented to enrollment in the Breastfeeding, Antiretrovirals, and Nutrition (BAN) Study ( Anthropometric assessments of mid-upper arm circumference (MUAC), arm muscle area (AMA), and arm fat area (AFA) were collected at the baseline visit between 12 and 30 weeks gestation and in up to 4 follow-up prenatal visits. In longitudinal analysis, fundal height increased monotonically at an estimated rate of 0.92 cm/week and was positively and negatively associated with AMA and AFA, respectively. These latter relationships varied over weeks of follow-up. Baseline MUAC, AMA, and AFA were positively associated with birth weight [MUAC: 31.84 grams per cm increment, 95% CI: 22.18, 41.49 (p<0.01); AMA: 6.88 g/cm2, 95% CI: 2.51, 11.26 (p<0.01); AFA: 6.97 g/cm2, 95% CI: 3.53, 10.41 (p<0.01)]. In addition, MUAC and AMA were both associated with decreased odds for LBW (<2500 g) [MUAC: OR=0.85, 95% CI: 0.77, 0.94 (p<0.01); AMA: OR=0.95, 95% CI: 0.91, 0.99 (p<0.05)]. These findings support the use of MUAC as an efficient, cost effective screening tool for LBW in HIV-infected women, as in HIV-uninfected women.
PMCID: PMC3753683  PMID: 22511656
7.  Maternal and infant antiretroviral regimens to prevent postnatal HIV-1 transmission: 48-week follow-up of the BAN randomised controlled trial 
Lancet  2012;379(9835):2449-2458.
In resource-limited settings where no safe alternative to breastfeeding exists, WHO recommends that antiretroviral prophylaxis be given to either HIV-infected mothers or infants throughout breastfeeding. We assessed the effect of 28 weeks of maternal or infant antiretroviral prophylaxis on postnatal HIV infection at 48 weeks.
The Breastfeeding, Antiretrovirals, and Nutrition (BAN) Study was undertaken in Lilongwe, Malawi, between April 21, 2004, and Jan 28, 2010. 2369 HIV-infected breastfeeding mothers with a CD4 count of 250 cells per μL or more and their newborn babies were randomly assigned with a variable-block design to one of three, 28-week regimens: maternal triple antiretroviral (n=849); daily infant nevirapine (n=852); or control (n=668). Patients and local clinical staff were not masked to treatment allocation, but other study investigators were. All mothers and infants received one dose of nevirapine (mother 200 mg; infant 2 mg/kg) and 7 days of zidovudine (mother 300 mg; infants 2 mg/kg) and lamivudine (mothers 150 mg; infants 4 mg/kg) twice a day. Mothers were advised to wean between 24 weeks and 28 weeks after birth. The primary endpoint was HIV infection by 48 weeks in infants who were not infected at 2 weeks and in all infants randomly assigned with censoring at loss to follow-up. This trial is registered with, number NCT00164736.
676 mother–infant pairs completed follow-up to 48 weeks or reached an endpoint in the maternal-antiretroviral group, 680 in the infant-nevirapine group, and 542 in the control group. By 32 weeks post partum, 96% of women in the intervention groups and 88% of those in the control group reported no breastfeeding since their 28-week visit. 30 infants in the maternal-antiretroviral group, 25 in the infant-nevirapine group, and 38 in the control group became HIV infected between 2 weeks and 48 weeks of life; 28 (30%) infections occurred after 28 weeks (nine in maternal-antiretroviral, 13 in infant-nevirapine, and six in control groups). The cumulative risk of HIV-1 transmission by 48 weeks was significantly higher in the control group (7%, 95% CI 5–9) than in the maternal-antiretroviral (4%, 3–6; p=0·0273) or the infant-nevirapine (4%, 2–5; p=0·0027) groups. The rate of serious adverse events in infants was significantly higher during 29–48 weeks than during the intervention phase (1·1 [95% CI 1·0–1·2] vs 0·7 [0·7–0·8] per 100 person-weeks; p<0·0001), with increased risk of diarrhoea, malaria, growth faltering, tuberculosis, and death. Nine women died between 2 weeks and 48 weeks post partum (one in maternal-antiretroviral group, two in infant-nevirapine group, six in control group).
In resource-limited settings where no suitable alternative to breastfeeding is available, antiretroviral prophylaxis given to mothers or infants might decrease HIV transmission. Weaning at 6 months might increase infant morbidity
US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
PMCID: PMC3661206  PMID: 22541418
8.  Maternal or Infant Antiretroviral Drugs to Reduce HIV-1 Transmission 
The New England journal of medicine  2010;362(24):2271-2281.
We evaluated the efficacy of a maternal triple-drug antiretroviral regimen or infant nevirapine prophylaxis for 28 weeks during breast-feeding to reduce postnatal transmission of human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) in Malawi.
We randomly assigned 2369 HIV-1–positive, breast-feeding mothers with a CD4+ lymphocyte count of at least 250 cells per cubic millimeter and their infants to receive a maternal antiretroviral regimen, infant nevirapine, or no extended postnatal antiretroviral regimen (control group). All mothers and infants received perinatal prophylaxis with single-dose nevirapine and 1 week of zidovudine plus lamivudine. We used the Kaplan–Meier method to estimate the cumulative risk of HIV-1 transmission or death by 28 weeks among infants who were HIV-1–negative 2 weeks after birth. Rates were compared with the use of the log-rank test.
Among mother–infant pairs, 5.0% of infants were HIV-1–positive at 2 weeks of life. The estimated risk of HIV-1 transmission between 2 and 28 weeks was higher in the control group (5.7%) than in either the maternal-regimen group (2.9%, P = 0.009) or the infant-regimen group (1.7%, P<0.001). The estimated risk of infant HIV-1 infection or death between 2 and 28 weeks was 7.0% in the control group, 4.1% in the maternal-regimen group (P = 0.02), and 2.6% in the infant-regimen group (P<0.001). The proportion of women with neutropenia was higher among those receiving the antiretroviral regimen (6.2%) than among those in either the nevirapine group (2.6%) or the control group (2.3%). Among infants receiving nevirapine, 1.9% had a hypersensitivity reaction.
The use of either a maternal antiretroviral regimen or infant nevirapine for 28 weeks was effective in reducing HIV-1 transmission during breast-feeding. ( number, NCT00164736.)
PMCID: PMC3440865  PMID: 20554982
9.  The acceptance and feasibility of replacement feeding at 6 months as an HIV prevention method in Lilongwe, Malawi: Results from the BAN Study 
International guidelines recommend exclusive breastfeeding to 6 months among HIV-infected mothers choosing to breastfeed and cessation thereafter if replacement feeding is acceptable, feasible, affordable, sustainable and safe. When mothers wean they are challenged to provide an adequate replacement diet. This study investigates the use and acceptability of a lipid-based nutrient supplement (LNS) as a breastmilk substitute when provided to infants (6-12mo) of HIV-positive mothers, as part of the Breastfeeding, Antiretroviral, and Nutrition (BAN) Study. A sub-sample of mothers (n=45) participated in interviews that explored exclusive breastfeeding, weaning, and strategies to feed LNS. Mothers reported several weaning strategies, including gradual reduction of breastfeeding, expressing breastmilk into a cup, and separation of mother and child. LNS, a peanut-based micronutrient fortified paste, was highly accepted and incorporated into the traditional diet. Weaning is a feasible HIV prevention method among this population in Malawi when supported by the provision of LNS as a breastmilk substitute.
PMCID: PMC3197736  PMID: 21696245
HIV; infant feeding; breastfeeding; weaning; LNS
A process evaluation of nurses’ implementation of an infant-feeding counseling protocol was conducted for the Breastfeeding, Antiretroviral and Nutrition (BAN) Study, a prevention of mother-to-child transmission of HIV clinical trial in Lilongwe, Malawi. Six trained nurses counseled HIV-infected mothers to exclusively breastfeed for 24 weeks postpartum and to stop breastfeeding within an additional four weeks. Implementation data were collected via direct observations of 123 infant feeding counseling sessions (30 antenatal and 93 postnatal) and interviews with each nurse. Analysis included calculating a percent adherence to checklists and conducting a content analysis for the observation and interview data. Nurses were implementing the protocol at an average adherence level of 90% or above. Although not detailed in the protocol, nurses appropriately counseled mothers on their actual or intended formula milk usage after weaning. Results indicate that nurses implemented the protocol as designed. Results will help to interpret the BAN Study’s outcomes.
PMCID: PMC2903193  PMID: 19397436

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