An assessment of antiretroviral drug initiation to pregnant women of unknown HIV status during labour and delivery in Cameroon
Background: Evidence from previous research has shown that antiretroviral (ARV) drug initiation to seropositive pregnant women could significantly contribute to eliminating new paediatric infections even when started during labour and delivery. This study therefore seeks to assess missed opportunities for ARV initiation during this critical period of pregnancy to improve outcomes of the prevention of mother-to-child transmission (PMTCT) programmes in Cameroon.
Methods: A retrospective study was conducted on the 2014 PMTCT data for labour and delivery among pregnant women of unknown HIV status within health facilities in six regions of Cameroon (428 eligible facilities). Outcomes were summarised using (relative) frequencies. ARV initiations for eligible facilities were stratified per region and per facility type (public and private facilities). Initiation to ARV was reported using odds ratios and 95% confidence intervals.
Results: An average of 14.6% of the 9 170 pregnant women presenting with unknown HIV status at labour and delivery, were diagnosed HIV-positive. A cumulative average from the six regions revealed that only half (51.4%) of these seropositive women received an ARV regimen. The findings from the North-West region depict 100% initiation to ARV among the study population. The odds of ARV initiation in the study population was more likely in the public health facilities than the private facilities for five regions, excluding the North-West (odds ratio of 1.35 [1.07, 170]).
Conclusion: A significant portion of women do not receive the care required, especially in private health facilities. Evidence from the results in the North West region suggest that processes to address health system barriers to improve PMTCT uptake are feasible in Cameroon.
Keywords: ARV initiation, labour and delivery, PMTCT, public and private health facilities, unknown HIV status