Eliminating mother-to-child HIV transmission in South Africa

School of Public Health, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of the Witwatersrand, York Road, Johannesburg, Gauteng, 2193, South Africa .
Bulletin of the World Health Organisation (Impact Factor: 5.09). 02/2013; 91(1):70-4. DOI: 10.2471/BLT.12.106807
Source: PubMed


The World Health Organization has produced clear guidelines for the prevention of mother-to-child transmission (PMTCT) of the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). However, ensuring that all PMTCT programme components are implemented to a high quality in all facilities presents challenges.
Although South Africa initiated its PMTCT programme in 2002, later than most other countries, political support has increased since 2008. Operational research has received more attention and objective data have been used more effectively.
In 2010, around 30% of all pregnant women in South Africa were HIV-positive and half of all deaths in children younger than 5 years were associated with the virus.
Between 2008 and 2011, the estimated proportion of HIV-exposed infants younger than 2 months who underwent routine polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests to detect early HIV transmission increased from 36.6% to 70.4%. The estimated HIV transmission rate decreased from 9.6% to 2.8%. Population-based surveys in 2010 and 2011 reported transmission rates of 3.5% and 2.7%, respectively.
CRITICAL ACTIONS FOR IMPROVING PROGRAMME OUTCOMES INCLUDED: ensuring rapid implementation of changes in PMTCT policy at the field level through training and guideline dissemination; ensuring good coordination with technical partners, such as international health agencies and international and local nongovernmental organizations; and making use of data and indicators on all aspects of the PMTCT programme. Enabling health-care staff at primary care facilities to initiate antiretroviral therapy and expanding laboratory services for measuring CD4+ T-cell counts and for PCR testing were also helpful.

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Available from: Gayle Sherman, Jun 04, 2014
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    • "Notably, the national prevalence of HIV in pregnancy has declined from 30% in 2010 to 29.5% in 2012 [2]. Data on the number of HIV-exposed infants who tested polymerase chain reaction (PCR) positive at approximately two months of age show that the rate of MTCT has also declined from 9.6% in 2008 to 4.4% in 2010 [6] and to 2.4% in 2013 [7]. The 2013 interim Saving Mothers report has shown that the institutional maternal mortality ratio in South Africa has decreased from 176.2 per 100 000 live births in 2008−2010 to 146.7 per 100 000 live births in 2012. "
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    ABSTRACT: In South Africa, new drug regimens (WHO treatment Option B) used to manage HIV infection in pregnancy and the national strategic plan on HIV have resulted in improved health outcomes. Among these outcomes are reductions in the following: mother-to-child transmission (MTCT) of HIV to 2.4%;maternal deaths attributable to HIV; and adverse reactions due to antiretroviral therapy (ART). The present article describes these new drug regimens and the national strategic HIV management plan, as well as their challenges and the implications of improved health outcomes. Such outcomes imply that further decreases in MTCT of HIV, and HIV attributable maternal deaths are possible if potential challenges are addressed and treatment option B+ offered. A confidential enquiry into each case of MTCT is advocated to reduce vertical transmission rates to zero levels. © 2015 Published by Elsevier Ireland Ltd. on behalf of International Federation of Gynecology and Obstetrics. This is an open access article under the CC BY-NC-ND license (
    Full-text · Article · Oct 2015 · International journal of gynaecology and obstetrics: the official organ of the International Federation of Gynaecology and Obstetrics
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    • "Frequent engagement of facility-based health workers in offsite meetings and trainings by other partners sometimes caused artificial staff shortages and adversely affected service delivery. Barron et al. [24] identified the need to ensure good coordination with technical partners, such as international health agencies and international and local nongovernmental organizations, to improve program outcomes. "
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    ABSTRACT: Gaps exist in coverage, early access, and utilization of prevention of mother-to-child transmission of HIV (PMTCT) services in Kenya. The Maternal and Child Health Integrated Program, led by Jhpiego, piloted an adaptation of immunization's Reaching Every District (RED) approach in Bondo District as a way of improving PMTCT care. Routine district-level monthly summary service delivery pre- and post-implementation data were analyzed. Marked improvements resulted in the proportion of HIV-infected and non-infected pregnant women completing four focused prenatal care visits, from 25% to 41%, and the proportion of HIV-exposed infants (HEIs) tested at six weeks, from 27% to 78% (P<0.001). The proportion of HEIs tested for HIV infection at 12months was 52%, while 77% of HEIs were issued antiretroviral prophylaxis by the end of the pilot. Implementation of RED for PMTCT demonstrated that PMTCT services can be delivered effectively in the context of the existing community strategy and resulted in increased coverage, access, and utilization of care for HIV-positive pregnant women and their children. Copyright © 2015. Published by Elsevier Ireland Ltd.
    Full-text · Article · Jun 2015 · International journal of gynaecology and obstetrics: the official organ of the International Federation of Gynaecology and Obstetrics
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    • "In 2009, the HIV prevalence among women attending antenatal clinics in the area was 31% [21]. During the study period, the Prevention of Mother to Child Transmission program consisted of dual therapy for mothers and infants, starting with the administration of zidovudine at 28 or more weeks' gestation, then zidovudine for 1 month to the infant and a single dose of nevirapine to both mother and infant. "
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    ABSTRACT: Background HIV-exposed uninfected infants have increased infection risk and mortality compared to HIV-unexposed infants. HIV-exposed infants may be at increased risk of invasive GBS disease due to reduced maternal antibody against GBS. Methods We quantified antibodies that bind to the surface of whole Group B Streptococcus (GBS) of serotypes Ia, Ib, II, III and V using novel flow cytometry assays in South African HIV-infected and non-infected mothers and their uninfected infants. Antibody-mediated complement C3b/iC3b deposition onto GBS of these serotypes was also quantified by a novel flow cytometry assay. Results Geometric mean concentration (GMC) of both surface-binding anti-GBS antibody and antibody-mediated complement deposition onto GBS were reduced in HIV-infected women (n = 46) compared to HIV-uninfected women (n = 58) for ST1a (surface-binding: 19.3 vs 29.3; p = 0.003; complement deposition: 2.9 vs 5.3 SU/mL; p = 0.003), STIb (24.9 vs 47.6; p = 0.003; 2.6 vs 4.9 SU/mL; p = 0.003), STII (19.8 vs 50.0; p = 0.001; 3.1 vs 6.2 SU/mL; p = 0.001), STIII (27.8 vs 60.1; p = 0.001; 2.8 vs 5.3 SU/mL; p = 0.001) and STV (121.9 vs 185.6 SU/mL; p < 0.001) and in their infants for STIa (complement deposition 9.4 vs 27.0 SU/mL; p = 0.02), STIb (13.4 vs 24.5 SU/mL; p = 0.02), STII (14.6 vs 42.7 SU/mL; p = 0.03), STIII (26.6 vs 62.7 SU/mL; p = 0.03) and STV (90.4 vs 165.8 SU/mL; p = 0.04). Median transplacental transfer of antibody from HIV-infected women to their infants was reduced compared to HIV-uninfected women for GBS serotypes II (0.42 [IQR 0.22–0.59] vs 1.0 SU/mL [0.42–1.66]; p < 0.001), III (0.54 [0.31–1.03] vs 0.95 SU/mL [0.42–3.05], p = 0.05) and V (0.51 [0.28–0.79] vs 0.75 SU/mL [0.26–2.9], p = 0.04). The differences between infants remained significant at 16 weeks of age. Conclusions Maternal HIV infection was associated with lower anti-GBS surface binding antibody concentration and antibody-mediated C3b/iC3b deposition onto GBS bacteria of serotypes Ia, Ib, II, III and V. This may render these infants more susceptible to early and late onset GBS disease.
    Full-text · Article · Dec 2014 · Vaccine
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