Objective To evaluate the protective efficacy of co-trimoxazole prophylaxis against malaria in HIV exposed children (uninfected children born to HIV infected mothers) in Africa.
Design Non-blinded randomised control trial
Setting Tororo district, rural Uganda, an area of high malaria transmission intensity
Participants 203 breastfeeding HIV exposed infants enrolled between 6 weeks and 9 months of age
Intervention Co-trimoxazole prophylaxis from enrolment until cessation of breast feeding and confirmation of negative HIV status. All children who remained HIV uninfected (n=185) were then randomised to stop co-trimoxazole prophylaxis immediately or continue co-trimoxazole until 2 years old.
Main outcome measure Incidence of malaria, calculated as the number of antimalarial treatments per person year.
Results The incidence of malaria and prevalence of genotypic mutations associated with antifolate resistance were high throughout the study. Among the 98 infants randomised to continue co-trimoxazole, 299 malaria cases occurred in 92.28 person years (incidence 3.24 cases/person year). Among the 87 infants randomised to stop co-trimoxazole, 400 malaria cases occurred in 71.81 person years (5.57 cases/person year). Co-trimoxazole prophylaxis yielded a 39% reduction in malaria incidence, after adjustment for age at randomisation (incidence rate ratio 0.61 (95% CI 0.46 to 0.81), P=0.001). There were no significant differences in the incidence of complicated malaria, diarrhoea, pneumonia, hospitalisations, or deaths between the two treatment arms.
Conclusions Co-trimoxazole prophylaxis was moderately protective against malaria in HIV exposed infants when continued beyond the period of HIV exposure despite the high prevalence of Plasmodium genotypes associated with antifolate resistance.
Trial registration Clinical Trials NCT00527800