Background: Routine Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) testing, called provider-initiated opt-out HIV testing and counseling (PITC), is recommended in African countries with high HIV prevalence. However, it is unknown whether PITC increases access to pediatric HIV care. In 2008, the Baylor International Pediatric AIDS Initiative implemented PITC (BIPAI-PITC) at a Malawian hospital. We sought to evaluate the influence of BIPAI-PITC, compared with nonroutine HIV testing (NRT), on pediatric HIV care access.
Methods: Retrospective data from 7077 pediatric inpatients were collected during sequential 4-month periods of NRT and BIPAI-PITC. In-hospital and 1-year outcomes for 337 HIV-infected and HIV-exposed uninfected inpatients not previously enrolled in HIV care were analyzed to assess the clinical influence of each testing strategy.
Results: During BIPAI-PITC, a greater proportion of all hospitalized children received HIV testing (81.0% vs. 33.3%, P < 0.001), accessed inpatient HIV-trained care (7.5% vs. 2.4%, P < 0.001), enrolled into an outpatient HIV clinic after discharge (3.2% vs. 1.3%, P < 0.001), and initiated antiretroviral therapy (ART) after hospitalization (1.1% vs. 0.6%, P = 0.010) compared with NRT. Additionally, BIPAI-PITC increased the proportion of hospitalized HIV-infected and HIV-exposed uninfected children receiving DNA polymerase chain reaction testing (73.5% vs. 35.2%, P < 0.001), but did not improve outpatient enrollment or ART initiation of identified HIV-infected patients.
Conclusions: BIPAI-PITC increases access to inpatient and outpatient pediatric HIV care for hospitalized children, including DNA polymerase chain reaction testing and ART. Broader implementation of BIPAI-PITC or similar approaches, along with more pediatric HIV-trained clinicians and improved defaulter-tracking methods, would improve pediatric HIV service utilization globally.