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
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.
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.
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.
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.