Introduction: Early diagnosis of HIV is crucial to ensure early antiretroviral (ARV) treatment which is associated with lower mortality in HIV-infected children. This study reports the prevalence of HIV infection and the factors associated to mother-to-child transmission (MTCT) in an Early Infant Diagnosis (EID) program in Bertoua, Cameroon.
Methods: We reviewed the records of 112 HIV-exposed infants aged six weeks to 18 months who had an HIV-1 DNA PCR test done in 2010. Data included socio-demographic characteristics, clinical manifestations of HIV, ARV prophylaxis, feeding options and results of the PCR tests.
Results: The median age at first HIV testing was 4 months (IQR, 2-7). Ninety-one point one percent of infants and 65.2% of mothers did not receive ARV prophylaxis. Fifty infants (44.6%) were exclusively breastfed, 37 (33%) received formula feeding and 25 (22.4%) received mixed feeding. The prevalence of HIV in the infants was 11.6%. MTCT of HIV was significantly associated with mixed feeding (adjusted odds ratio (aOR): 6.7, 95% CI 1.6-28.3; p=0.009) and an age at 1st PCR test greater than 6 months (aOR: 6.5, 95% CI 1.4-29.3; p=0.014). The mothers of 66.1% of the infants tested returned to collect the result.
Conclusion: There is a high rate of MTCT of HIV in this setting, due to a poor implementation of the PMTCT program. There is a critical need to increase the use of ARV prophylaxis, and to improve rapid first testing and completion of the EID. The infant feeding practices also have to be improved.
Keywords: Cameroon; Mother-to-child transmission of HIV; early infant diagnosis; polymerase chain reaction.