Impact of Facility- and Community-Based Peer Support Models on Maternal Uptake and Retention in Malawi's Option B+ HIV Prevention of Mother-to-Child Transmission Program: A 3-Arm Cluster Randomized Controlled Trial (PURE Malawi)

J Acquir Immune Defic Syndr. 2017 Jun 1:75 Suppl 2:S140-S148. doi: 10.1097/QAI.0000000000001357.


Background: Many sub-Saharan African countries have adopted Option B+, a prevention of mother-to-child transmission approach providing HIV-infected pregnant and lactating women with immediate lifelong antiretroviral therapy. High maternal attrition has been observed in Option B+. Peer-based support may improve retention.

Methods: A 3-arm stratified cluster randomized controlled trial was conducted in Malawi to assess whether facility- and community-based peer support would improve Option B+ uptake and retention compared with standard of care (SOC). In SOC, no enhancements were made (control). In facility-based and community-based models, peers provided patient education, support groups, and patient tracing. Uptake was defined as attending a second scheduled follow-up visit. Retention was defined as being alive and in-care at 2 years without defaulting. Attrition was defined as death, default, or stopping antiretroviral therapy. Generalized estimating equations were used to estimate risk differences (RDs) in uptake. Cox proportional hazards regression with shared frailties was used to estimate hazard of attrition.

Results: Twenty-one facilities were randomized and enrolled 1269 women: 447, 428, and 394 in facilities that implemented SOC, facility-based, and community-based peer support models, respectively. Mean age was 27 years. Uptake was higher in facility-based (86%; RD: 6%, confidence interval [CI]: -3% to 15%) and community-based (90%; RD: 9%, CI: 1% to 18%) models compared with SOC (81%). At 24 months, retention was higher in facility-based (80%; RD: 13%, CI: 1% to 26%) and community-based (83%; RD: 16%, CI: 3% to 30%) models compared with SOC (66%).

Conclusions: Facility- and community-based peer support interventions can benefit maternal uptake and retention in Option B+.

Trial registration: NCT02005835.

Publication types

  • Multicenter Study
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Anti-HIV Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Antiretroviral Therapy, Highly Active / methods
  • Cluster Analysis
  • Community Health Services* / organization & administration
  • Female
  • HIV Infections / drug therapy*
  • HIV Infections / prevention & control
  • HIV Infections / transmission
  • Health Services Accessibility / organization & administration*
  • Health Services Research
  • Humans
  • Infectious Disease Transmission, Vertical / prevention & control*
  • Malawi / epidemiology
  • Mothers*
  • Peer Group
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy Complications, Infectious / drug therapy*
  • Pregnancy Complications, Infectious / prevention & control
  • Program Evaluation
  • Social Support
  • Young Adult


  • Anti-HIV Agents

Associated data