Implementation effectiveness of revised (post-2010) World Health Organization guidelines on prevention of mother-to-child transmission of HIV using routinely collected data in sub-Saharan Africa: A systematic literature review

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Abstract

Background:

To synthesize and evaluate the impact of implementing post-2010 World Health Organization (WHO) prevention of mother-to-child transmission (PMTCT) guidelines on attainment of PMTCT targets.

Methods:

Retrospective and prospective cohort study designs that utilized routinely collected data with a focus on provision and utilization of the cascade of PMTCT services were included. The outcomes included the proportion of pregnant women who were tested during their antenatal clinic (ANC) visits; mother-to-child transmission (MTCT) rate; adherence; retention rate; and loss to follow-up (LTFU).

Results:

Of the 1210 references screened, 45 met the inclusion criteria. The studies originated from 14 countries in sub-Saharan Africa. The highest number of studies originated from Malawi (10) followed by Nigeria and South Africa with 7 studies each. More than half of the studies were on option A while the majority of option B+ studies were conducted in Malawi. These studies indicated a high uptake of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) testing ranging from 75% in Nigeria to over 96% in Zimbabwe and South Africa. High proportions of CD4 count testing were reported in studies only from South Africa despite that in most of the countries CD4 testing was a prerequisite to access treatment. MTCT rate ranged from 1.1% to 15.1% and it was higher in studies where data were collected in the early days of the WHO 2010 PMTCT guidelines. During the postpartum period, adherence and retention rate decreased, and LTFU increased for both HIV-positive mothers and exposed infants.

Conclusion:

Irrespective of which option was followed, uptake of antenatal HIV testing was high but there was a large drop off along later points in the PMTCT cascade. More research is needed on how to improve later components of the PMTCT cascade, especially of option B+ which is now the norm throughout sub-Saharan Africa.

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