A retrospective analysis of prevention of mother to child transmission (PMTCT) outcomes in a group of infants attending paediatric practices in central Durban.
Cassim, Shakira Mahomed.
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The vast majority of paediatric HIV occurs in sub-Saharan Africa and could be averted through implementation of effective Prevention of Mother to Child Transmission (PMTCT) strategies. At the United Nations General Assembly Special Session on HIV/AIDS in 2001, members committed themselves to the goal of reducing paediatric HIV by 20% by 2005 and by 50% by 2010. In South Africa, rates of HIV infection range between 28% in KwaZulu-Natal and 16% in the Western Cape. The South African National Department of Health has, over the past few years, phased in a comprehensive package for PMTCT of HIV. KwaZulu-Natal implemented its programme in 2002. The South African private healthcare sector follows guidelines of those of developed countries for PMTCT. Not much data is available of the outcome of infants born to HIV positive mothers managed in private practice. In view of this, the present study aimed to assess success or otherwise of PMTCT in private paediatric practice in South Africa. Eight of the 20 private paediatricians, in the central region of Ethekweni Metro of KwaZulu-Natal (Durban Central Area), agreed to participate in a retrospective study. Data for all their HIV exposed infants between January 2004 and June 2005 were reviewed. One hundred and one Black African infants were born to 100 HIV positive women aged 29.85 years (SD 5.38; range 18-44 years). The median CD4 count was 426 (IQR 244-613). The median viral load at first presentation was 3.97 logs (IQR 1.6-5.8) or 11 391 copies/ml (IQR 2 013-41 502). Eighty six women had HAART, nine had other antiretroviral therapy and five had no prophylaxis. Treatment started before 34 weeks in 72 women. There were 93 caesarean sections. There were 20 low birth weight neonates, 18 were preterm and all had been formula fed and received AZT for six weeks. Of the 92 tested, two (one preterm) were positive. Although caesarean deliveries, both these mothers had not adhered to the optimal treatment protocol. Of the rest, eight did not return for HIV testing and one died (the only neonatal death). This death was unlikely to have been HIV related. The transmission rate of less than one percent in those women who followed the protocol optimally is much better than that in the SA public sector, and is consistent with transmission rates in the developed world.