Background: Safety and effectiveness of efficacious antiretroviral (ARV) regimens beyond single-dose nevirapine (sdNVP) for prevention of mother-to-child transmission (PMTCT) have been demonstrated in well-controlled clinical studies or in secondary- and tertiary-level facilities in developing countries. This paper reports on implementation of and factors associated with efficacious ARV regimens among HIV-positive pregnant women attending antenatal clinics in primary health centers (PHCs) in Zambia.
Methods: Blood sample taken for CD4 cell count, availability of CD4 count results, type of ARV prophylaxis for mothers, and additional PMTCT service data were collected for HIV-positive pregnant women and newborns who attended 60 PHCs between April 2007 and March 2008.
Results: Of 14,815 HIV-positive pregnant women registered in the 60 PHCs, 2,528 (17.1%) had their CD4 cells counted; of those, 1,680 (66.5%) had CD4 count results available at PHCs; of those, 796 (47.4%) had CD4 count<or=350 cells/mm3 and thus were eligible for combination antiretroviral treatment (cART); and of those, 581 (73.0%) were initiated on cART. The proportion of HIV-positive pregnant women whose blood sample was collected for CD4 cell count was positively associated with (1) blood-draw for CD4 count occurring on the same day as determination of HIV-positive status; (2) CD4 results sent back to the health facilities within seven days; (3) facilities without providers trained to offer ART; and (4) urban location of PHC. Initiation of cART among HIV-positive pregnant women was associated with the PHC's capacity to provide care and antiretroviral treatment services. Overall, of the 14,815 HIV-positive pregnant women registered, 10,015 were initiated on any type of ARV regimen: 581 on cART, 3,041 on short course double ARV regimen, and 6,393 on sdNVP.
Conclusion: Efficacious ARV regimens beyond sdNVP can be implemented in resource-constrained PHCs. The majority (73.0%) of women identified eligible for ART were initiated on cART; however, a minority (11.3%) of HIV-positive pregnant women were assessed for CD4 count and had their test results available. Factors associated with implementation of more efficacious ARV regimens include timing of blood-draw for CD4 count and capacity to initiate cART onsite where PMTCT services were being offered.