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Journal Article
4 June 2020

Active pediatric HIV case finding in Kenya and Uganda: A look at missed opportunities along the prevention of mother-to-child transmission of HIV (PMTCT) cascade

Michelle M. Gill, Eliab K. Natumanya, Heather J. Hoffman, Gordon Okomo, Geoffrey Taasi, Laura Guay, Rose Masaba
2020. PLoS ONE 15(6): e0233590
doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0233590

 

Background
Children living with HIV remain undiagnosed due to missed opportunities along the prevention of mother-to-child HIV transmission cascade. This study addresses programmatic gaps in the cascade by describing pregnancy and HIV-related services received by mothers of children newly identified as HIV-positive through active case finding.

 

Methods
This was a prospective observational cohort (2017–2018) of HIV-positive children <15 years of age newly diagnosed at study facilities and/or surrounding communities in Kenya and Uganda. At enrollment, caregivers were interviewed about maternal and child health and HIV history. Child medical and laboratory information was abstracted at two months post-diagnosis. Descriptive summary statistics were calculated; associations between selected factors and child age at HIV diagnosis were evaluated using generalized estimating equations.

 

Results
174 HIV-positive children (median age 2.4 years) were enrolled. Among maternal caregivers, 110/132 (83.3%) attended antenatal care and 60 (45.5%) reported testing HIV-negative in antenatal care. Of 41 and 56 women known to be HIV-positive during pregnancy and breastfeeding respectively, 17 (41.5%) and 15 (26.8%) did not receive antiretroviral drugs. Despite known maternal HIV-positive status during pregnancy, 39% of these children were not diagnosed until after two years of age; children were diagnosed at younger ages in Uganda (p = 0.0074) and if mother was the caregiver (p<0.0001). The most common HIV testing points identifying children were outpatient (44.3%) and maternal/child health departments (29.9%). Nearly all children initiated antiretroviral therapy within two weeks of diagnosis.

 

Conclusions
Multiple missed opportunities for HIV prevention and delays in HIV testing of HIV-exposed children were identified in newly diagnosed children. Findings support critical prevention messaging and retesting of HIV-negative women during pregnancy and breastfeeding, strengthening HIV treatment initiation and follow-up systems and interventions to ensure HIV-positive women receive lifelong antiretroviral therapy throughout the cascade, and broader implementation of community case finding so children not engaged in care receive testing services.

 

Go to article on the PLOS website