Impact of Mother–Infant Pair Clinics and Short-Text Messaging Service (SMS) Reminders on Retention of HIV-Infected Women and HIV-Exposed Infants in eMTCT Care in Malawi: A Cluster Randomized Trial

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Background:Poor retention of mothers and HIV-exposed infants (HEIs) in HIV care threatens efforts to eliminate pediatric HIV. Novel strategies are required to address this challenge. We compared 12-month maternal and HEI postpartum retention in health facilities implementing the following HIV care delivery models: integrated HIV and maternal, neonatal, and child health services [mother–infant pair (MIP) clinics], MIP clinics plus short-text messaging service (SMS) reminders to prevent default (MIP + SMS), and standard of care (SOC).Methods:From May 2013 to August 2016, a cluster randomized trial was conducted in rural Malawi, which randomized 30 health facilities to the 3 service delivery models. HIV+ pregnant women and HEIs were enrolled and followed up to monitor compliance with prescheduled visits and retention. Log binomial regression, using generalized estimated equation, was used to assess the impact of the models on retention.Results:The trial enrolled 461, 493, and 396 HIV+ pregnant women and 386, 399, and 300 HEIs into the MIP, MIP + SMS, and SOC arms, respectively. Compared with the 12-month maternal retention rate in the SOC arm (22.2%), the rates were similar in the MIP arm [19.3%, risk ratio (RR): 0.85, 95% confidence interval (CI): 0.56 to 1.30] and in the MIP + SMS arm (24.9%, RR: 1.08, 95% CI: 0.87 to 1.35). Compared with the 12-month infant retention rate in the SOC arm (9.8%), the rates were similar in the MIP arm (8.0%, RR: 0.89, 95% CI: 0.31 to 2.58) and in the MIP + SMS arm (19.5%, RR: 1.40, 95% CI: 0.85 to 2.31).Conclusions:MIP and MIP + SMS service delivery models were ineffective in improving maternal and infant retention in rural Malawi.

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