We measured the effect of point-of-care (POC) early infant HIV testing on antiretroviral therapy initiation rates and retention in care among infants in Mozambique.Design:
A cluster-randomized trial was conducted in 16 primary healthcare centres providing either on-site POC arm (n = 8) or referred laboratory [standard-of-care (SOC) arm; n = 8] infant HIV testing.Methods:
The primary outcomes were the proportion of HIV-positive infants initiating antiretroviral therapy within 60 days of sample collection, and the proportion of HIV-positive infants who initiated antiretroviral therapy that were retained in care at 90 days of follow-up.Results:
The proportion of HIV-positive infants initiating antiretroviral therapy within 60 days of sample collection was 89.7% (157 of 175) for the POC arm and 12.8% (13 of 102) for the SOC arm [relative risk (RR)(adj) 7.34; P < 0.001]. The proportion of HIV-positive infants who initiated antiretroviral therapy that were retained in care at 90 days of follow-up was 61.6% (101 of 164) for the POC arm and 42.9% (21 of 49) for the SOC arm [RR(adj) 1.40; P < 0.027]. The median time from sample collection to antiretroviral therapy initiation was less than 1 day (interquartile range: 0–1) for the POC arm and 127 days (44–154; P < 0.001) for the SOC arm.Conclusion:
POC infant HIV testing enabled clinics to more rapidly diagnose and provide treatment to HIV-infected infants. This reduced opportunities for pretreatment loss to follow-up and enabled a larger proportion of infants to receive test results and initiate antiretroviral therapy. The benefits of faster HIV diagnosis and antiretroviral treatment may also improve early retention in care.