Evaluation of Using Routine Infant Immunization Visits to Identify and Follow-Up HIV-Exposed Infants and Their Mothers in Tanzania

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Abstract

Background:

Without treatment, approximately half of HIV-infected infants die by age 2 years, and 80% die before age 5 years. Early identification of HIV-infected and HIV-exposed infants provides opportunities for life-saving interventions. We evaluated integration of HIV-related services with routine infant immunization in Tanzania.

Methods:

During April 2009 to March 2010, at 4 urban and 4 rural sites, mothers’ HIV status was determined at first-month immunization using antenatal cards. HIV-exposed infants were offered HIV testing and follow-up care. Impact of integrated service delivery was assessed by comparing average monthly vaccine doses administered during the study period and a 2-year baseline period; acceptance was assessed by interviewing mothers and service providers.

Findings:

During 7569 visits, 308 HIV-exposed infants were identified and registered; of these, 290 (94%) were tested, 15 (5%) were HIV infected. At urban sites, first-month vaccine doses remained stable (+2% for pentavalent vaccine and -4% for polio vaccine), and vaccine doses given later in life (pentavalent, polio, and measles) increased 12%, 8%, and 11%, respectively. At rural sites, first-month vaccine doses decreased 33% and 35% and vaccine doses given later in life decreased 23%, 28%, and 28%. Mothers and service providers generally favored integrated services; however, HIV-related stigma and inadequate confidentiality controls of HIV testing were identified, particularly at rural sites.

Interpretation:

Integration of HIV-related services at immunization visits identified HIV-exposed infants, HIV-infected infants, and HIV-infected mothers; however, decreases in vaccine doses administered at rural sites were concerning. HIV-related service integration with immunization visits needs careful monitoring to ensure optimum vaccine delivery.

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