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Bulletin of the World Health Organization

Print version ISSN 0042-9686


HORWOOD, Christiane et al. Elimination of paediatric HIV in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa: large-scale assessment of interventions for the prevention of mother-to-child transmission. Bull World Health Organ [online]. 2012, vol.90, n.3, pp.168-175. ISSN 0042-9686.

OBJECTIVE: To report the rates of mother-to-child transmission (MTCT) of the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), and the coverage of interventions designed to prevent such transmission, in KwaZulu-Natal. METHODS: Mothers with infants aged < 16 weeks and fathers or legal guardians with infants aged 4-8 weeks who, between May 2008 and April 2009, attended immunization clinics in six districts of KwaZulu-Natal were included. The mothers' uptake of interventions for the prevention of MTCT was explored. Blood samples from infants aged 4-8 weeks were tested for anti-HIV antibodies and, if antibody-positive, for HIV desoxyribonucleic acid (DNA). FINDINGS: Of the 19 494 mothers investigated, 89·9% reported having had an HIV test in their recent pregnancy. Of the 19 138 mothers who reported ever having had an HIV test, 34.4% reported that they had been found HIV-positive and, of these, 13.7% had started lifelong antiretroviral treatment and 67.2% had received zidovudine and nevirapine. Overall, 40.4% of the 7981 infants tested were found positive for anti-HIV antibodies, indicating HIV exposure. Just 7.1% of the infants checked for HIV DNA (equating to 2.8% of the infants tested for anti-HIV antibodies) were found positive. CONCLUSION: The low levels of MTCT observed among the infants indicate the rapid, successful implementation of interventions for the prevention of such transmission. Sampling at immunization clinics appears to offer a robust method of estimating the impact of interventions designed to reduce such transmission. Large-scale elimination of paediatric HIV infections appears feasible, although this goal has not yet been fully achieved in KwaZulu-Natal.

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