Understanding the uptake and determinants of prevention of mother-to-child transmission of HIV services in East Africa: Mixed methods systematic review and meta-analysis

PLoS One. 2024 Apr 18;19(4):e0300606. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0300606. eCollection 2024.


Background: Prevention of mother-to-child transmission (PMTCT) of HIV service is conceptualized as a series of cascades that begins with all pregnant women and ends with the detection of a final HIV status in HIV-exposed infants (HEIs). A low rate of cascade completion by mothers' results in an increased risk of HIV transmission to their infants. Therefore, this review aimed to understand the uptake and determinants of key PMTCT services cascades in East Africa.

Methods: We searched CINAHL, EMBASE, MEDLINE, Scopus, and AIM databases using a predetermined search strategy to identify studies published from January 2012 through to March 2022 on the uptake and determinants of PMTCT of HIV services. The quality of the included studies was assessed using the Mixed Methods Appraisal Tool. A random-effects model was used to obtain pooled estimates of (i) maternal HIV testing (ii) maternal ART initiation, (iii) infant ARV prophylaxis and (iv) early infant diagnosis (EID). Factors from quantitative studies were reviewed using a coding template based on the domains of the Andersen model (i.e., environmental, predisposing, enabling and need factors) and qualitative studies were reviewed using a thematic synthesis approach.

Results: The searches yielded 2231 articles and we systematically reduced to 52 included studies. Forty quantitative, eight qualitative, and four mixed methods papers were located containing evidence on the uptake and determinants of PMTCT services. The pooled proportions of maternal HIV test and ART uptake in East Africa were 82.6% (95% CI: 75.6-88.0%) and 88.3% (95% CI: 78.5-93.9%). Similarly, the pooled estimates of infant ARV prophylaxis and EID uptake were 84.9% (95% CI: 80.7-88.3%) and 68.7% (95% CI: 57.6-78.0) respectively. Key factors identified were the place of residence, stigma, the age of women, the educational status of both parents, marital status, socioeconomic status, Knowledge about HIV/PMTCT, access to healthcare facilities, attitudes/perceived benefits towards PMTCT services, prior use of maternal and child health (MCH) services, and healthcare-related factors like resource scarcity and insufficient follow-up supervision.

Conclusion: Most of the identified factors were modifiable and should be considered when formulating policies and planning interventions. Hence, promoting women's education and economic empowerment, strengthening staff supervision, improving access to and integration with MCH services, and actively involving the community to reduce stigma are suggested. Engaging community health workers and expert mothers can also help to share the workload of healthcare providers because of the human resource shortage.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome*
  • Africa, Eastern
  • Female
  • HIV Infections* / drug therapy
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infectious Disease Transmission, Vertical / prevention & control
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy Complications, Infectious* / drug therapy

Grants and funding

The author(s) received no specific funding for this work.