Prenatal Transmission of Syphilis and Human Immunodeficiency Virus in Brazil: Achieving Regional Targets for Elimination

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Abstract

Background. The Pan-American Health Organization has called for reducing (1) human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) mother-to-child transmission (MTCT) to ≤0.30 infections/1000 live births (LB), (2) HIV MTCT risk to ≤2.0%, and (3) congenital syphilis (CS) incidence to ≤0.50/1000 LB in the Americas by 2015.

Methods. Using published Brazilian data in a mathematical model, we simulated a cohort of pregnant women from antenatal care (ANC) through birth. We investigated 2 scenarios: “current access” (89.1% receive one ANC syphilis test and 41.1% receive 2; 81.7% receive one ANC HIV test and 18.9% receive birth testing; if diagnosed, 81.0% are treated for syphilis and 87.5% are treated for HIV) and “ideal access” (95% of women undergo 2 HIV and syphilis screenings; 95% receive appropriate treatment). We conducted univariate and multivariate sensitivity analyses on key inputs.

Results. With current access, we projected 2.95 CS cases/1000 LB, 0.29 HIV infections/1000 LB, 7.1% HIV MTCT risk, and 11.11 intrauterine fetal demises (IUFD)/1000 pregnancies, with significant regional variation. With ideal access, we projected improved outcomes: 1.00 CS cases/1000 LB, 0.10 HIV infections/1000 LB, HIV MTCT risk of 2.4%, and 10.65 IUFD/1000 pregnancies. Increased testing drove the greatest improvements. Even with ideal access, only HIV infections/1000 LB met elimination goals. Achieving all targets required testing and treatment >95% and reductions in prevalence and incidence of HIV and syphilis.

Conclusions. Increasing access to care and HIV and syphilis antenatal testing will substantially reduce HIV and syphilis MTCT in Brazil. In addition, regionally tailored interventions reducing syphilis incidence and prevalence and supporting HIV treatment adherence are necessary to completely meet elimination goals.

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