Lessons learned from early implementation of option B+: the Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation experience in 11 African countries

J Acquir Immune Defic Syndr. 2014 Dec 1;67 Suppl 4(Suppl 4):S188-94. doi: 10.1097/QAI.0000000000000372.


Background: "Option B+" is a World Health Organization-recommended approach to prevent mother-to-child HIV transmission whereby all HIV-positive pregnant and lactating women initiate lifelong antiretroviral therapy (ART). This review of early Option B+ implementation experience is intended to inform Ministries of Health and others involved in implementing Option B+.

Methods: This implementation science study analyzed data from 11 African countries supported by the Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation (EGPAF) to describe early experience implementing Option B+. Data are from 4 sources: (1) national guidelines for prevention of mother-to-child HIV transmission and Option B+ implementation plans, (2) aggregated service delivery data between January 2013 and March 2014 from EGPAF-supported sites, (3) field visits to Option B+ implementation sites, and (4) relevant EGPAF research, quality improvement, and evaluation studies.

Results: Rapid adoption of Option B+ led to large increases in percentage of HIV-positive pregnant women accessing ART in antenatal care. By the end of 2013, most programs reached at least 50% of HIV-positive women in antenatal care with ART, even in countries using a phased approach to implementation. Scaling up Option B+ through integrating ART in maternal and child health settings has required expansion of the workforce, and task shifting to allow nurse-led ART initiation has created staffing pressure on lower-level cadres for counseling and community follow-up. Complex data collection needs may be impairing data quality.

Discussion: Early experiences with Option B+ implementation demonstrate promise. Continued program evaluation is needed, as is specific attention to counseling and support around initiation of lifetime ART in the context of pregnancy and lactation.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome / drug therapy*
  • Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome / transmission*
  • Africa
  • Anti-HIV Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Breast Feeding
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Female
  • Foundations / organization & administration*
  • HIV Infections / drug therapy
  • HIV Infections / transmission
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Infectious Disease Transmission, Vertical / prevention & control*
  • Male
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy Complications, Infectious / drug therapy*
  • Program Evaluation
  • World Health Organization


  • Anti-HIV Agents