Background: Multidrug antiretroviral (ARV) regimens including HAART and short-course dual antiretroviral (sc-dARV) regimens were introduced in 2004 to improve Prevention of Mother-to-Child Transmission (PMTCT) in Cameroon. We assessed the effectiveness of these regimens from 6-10 weeks and 12 months of age, respectively.
Methodology/findings: We conducted a retrospective cohort study covering the period from October 2004 to March 2008 in a reference hospital in Cameroon. HIV-positive pregnant women with CD4 < or = 350 cells/mm(3) received first-line HAART [regimen 1] while the others received ARV prophylaxis including sc-dARV or single dose nevirapine (sd-NVP). Sc-dARV included at least two drugs according to different gestational ages: zidovudine (ZDV) from 28-32 weeks plus sd-NVP [regimen 2], ZDV and lamuvidine (3TC) from 33-36 weeks plus sd-NVP [regimen 3]. When gestational age was > or = 37 weeks, women received sd-NVP during labour [regimen 4]. Infants received sd-NVP plus ZDV and 3TC for 7 days or 30 days. Early diagnosis (6-10 weeks) was done, using b-DNA and subsequently RT-PCR. We determined early MTCT rate and associated risk factors using logistic regression. The 12-month HIV-free survival was assessed using Cox regression. Among 418 mothers, 335 (80%) received multidrug ARV regimens (1, 2, and 3) and MTCT rate with multidrug regimens was 6.6% [95%CI: 4.3-9.6] at 6 weeks, without any significant difference between regimens. Duration of mother's ARV regimen < 4 weeks [OR = 4.7, 95%CI: 1.3-17.6], mother's CD4 < 350 cells/mm(3) [OR = 6.4, 95%CI: 1.8-22.5] and low birth weight [OR = 4.0, 95%CI: 1.4-11.3] were associated with early MTCT. By 12 months, mixed feeding [HR = 8.7, 95%CI: 3.6-20.6], prematurity [HR = 2.3, 95%CI: 1.2-4.3] and low birth weight were associated with children's risk of progressing to infection or death.
Conclusions: Multidrug ARV regimens for PMTCT are feasible and effective in routine reference hospital. Early initiation of ARV during pregnancy and proper obstetrical care are essential to improve PMTCT.