Objective(s): To evaluate uptake of HIV testing in a prevention of mother-to-child transmission program (PMTCT) in Lilongwe, Malawi from April 2002 until December 2006.
Design: Retrospective analysis of monthly reports from the beginning of the program.
Setting: Four antenatal clinics in Lilongwe, Malawi.
Methods: Pregnant women attending urban antenatal clinics in Lilongwe were invited to participate in a PMTCT program. Women were given information and education on antenatal care and PMTCT in groups of 8 to 12. Written informed consent for HIV testing was obtained privately. Women returned for the test result 1-2 weeks later. Mothers and infants were given the HIVNET 012 regimen. Rapid HIV testing and 'opt-out' testing were instituted in July 2003 and April 2005, respectively. Infants were tested using HIV DNA PCR and, if HIV positive, a CD4 cell percentage was obtained and the infants were referred for further medical evaluation and treatment.
Results: The program reached 20 000 pregnant women in the first 12 months. Acceptance of HIV testing increased from 45% to 73% (P < 0.001) when rapid, same day testing was instituted. When opt-out testing was instituted, 99% of the mothers agreed to testing. Of the infants tested, 15.5% were HIV positive.
Conclusion: Rapid HIV testing using the opt-out method increased acceptance of HIV testing in the PMTCT program to 99% in urban Lilongwe, Malawi.