Background: The integration of HIV/AIDS and maternal, neonatal, child health and nutrition services (MNCHN), including family planning (FP) is recognized as a key strategy to reduce maternal and child mortality and control the HIV/AIDS epidemic. However, limited evidence exists on the effectiveness of service integration.
Objectives: To evaluate the impact of integrating MNCHN-FP and HIV/AIDS services on health, behavioral, and economic outcomes and to identify research gaps.
Search methods: Using the Cochrane Collaboration's validated search strategies for identifying reports of HIV interventions, along with appropriate keywords and MeSH terms, we searched a range of electronic databases, including the Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials (CENTRAL), Cumulative Index to Nursing and Allied Health Literature (CINAHL), EMBASE, MEDLINE (via PubMed), and Web of Science / Web of Social Science. The date range was from 01 January 1990 to 15 October 2010. There were no limits to language.
Selection criteria: Included studies were published in peer-reviewed journals, and provided intervention evaluation data (pre-post or multi-arm study design).The interventions described were organizational strategies or change, process modifications or introductions of technologies aimed at integrating MNCHN-FP and HIV/AIDS service delivery.
Data collection and analysis: We identified 10,619 citations from the electronic database searches and 101 citations from hand searching, cross-reference searching and interpersonal communication. After initial screenings for relevance by pairs of authors working independently, a total of 121 full-text articles were obtained for closer examination.
Main results: Twenty peer-reviewed articles representing 19 interventions met inclusion criteria. There were no randomized controlled trials. One study utilized a stepped wedge design, while the rest were non-randomized trials, cohort studies, time series studies, cross-sectional studies, serial cross-sectional studies, and before-after studies. It was not possible to perform meta-analysis. Risk of bias was generally high. We found high between-study heterogeneity in terms of intervention types, study objectives, settings and designs, and reported outcomes. Most studies integrated FP with HIV testing (n=7) or HIV care and treatment (n=4). Overall, HIV and MNCHN-FP service integration was found to be feasible across a variety of integration models, settings and target populations. Nearly all studies reported positive post-integration effects on key outcomes including contraceptive use, antiretroviral therapy initiation in pregnancy, HIV testing, and quality of services.
Authors' conclusions: This systematic review's findings show that integrated HIV/AIDS and MNCHN-FP services are feasible to implement and show promise towards improving a variety of health and behavioral outcomes. However, significant evidence gaps remain. Rigorous research comparing outcomes of integrated with non-integrated services, including cost, cost-effectiveness, and health outcomes such as HIV and STI incidence, morbidity and mortality are greatly needed to inform programs and policy.