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Missed Opportunities: Poor Linkage into Ongoing Care for HIV-Positive Pregnant Women in Mwanza, Tanzania
Published: Monday, July 09, 2012
Author: Deborah Watson-Jones et al.

by Deborah Watson-Jones, Rebecca Balira, David A. Ross, Helen A. Weiss, David Mabey

Background

Global coverage of prevention of mother-to-child (PMTCT) services reached 53% in 2009. However the number of pregnant women who test positive for HIV in antenatal clinics and who link into long-term HIV care is not known in many resource-poor countries. We measured the proportion of HIV-positive pregnant women in Mwanza city, Tanzania, who completed the cascade of care from antenatal HIV diagnosis to assessment and engagement in care in adult HIV clinics.

Methods

Thirty antenatal and maternity ward health workers were interviewed about PMTCT activities. Nine antenatal HIV education sessions were observed. A prospective cohort of 403 HIV-positive women was enrolled by specially-trained clinicians and nurses on admission to delivery and followed for four months post-partum. Information was collected on referral and attendance at adult HIV clinics, eligibility for highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART) and reasons for lack of attendance.

Results

Overall, 70% of PMTCT health workers referred HIV-positive pregnant women to the HIV clinic for assessment and care. Antenatal HIV education sessions did not cover on-going care for HIV-infected women. Of 310 cohort participants tested in pregnancy, 51% had received an HIV clinic referral pre-delivery. Only 32% of 244 women followed to four months post-partum had attended an HIV clinic and been assessed for HAART eligibility. Non-attendance for HIV care was independently associated with fewer antenatal visits, poor PMTCT prophylaxis compliance, non-disclosure of HIV status, and non-Sukuma ethnicity.

Conclusion

Most women identified as HIV-positive during pregnancy were not assessed for HAART eligibility during pregnancy or in the first four months post-partum. Initiating HAART at the antenatal clinic, improved counselling and linkages to care between PMTCT and adult HIV treatment services and reducing stigma surrounding disclosure of HIV results would benefit on-going care of HIV-positive pregnant women.

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