Mother-to-child transmission is the main mode of HIV infection among children in developing countries. In 2003, as a result of government policy, a prevention-of-mother-to-child-transmission (PMTCT) programme was introduced at Aminu Kano Teaching Hospital in Nigeria. The aim of this study was to determine the pattern of voluntary counselling and testing (VCT) uptake and HIV seroprevalence among pregnant women using the service. VCT has become part of routine antenatal care at the hospital; in addition, antiretroviral prophylaxis/treatment, modification of obstetric practices, and counselling on infant feeding options are provided for HIV-positive pregnant women. Data on clients' socio-demographic characteristics, VCT uptake, and HIV seropositivity for a three-year period (from January 2004 to December 2006) were taken from nationally prepared PMTCT registers kept at the hospital, and prospectively entered into a database. During the period, 6 887 women newly accessed antenatal care (i.e. repeat pregnancies were excluded). All the women were group counselled, and 6 702 (97.3%) agreed to undergo HIV testing. Overall HIV prevalence among these pregnant women for the study period was 5.9% (95% CI 5.2–6.3%). The data have shown a statistically significant trend of rising HIV prevalence in this group: at 4.5%, prevalence was lowest in 2004; rose to 4.9% in 2005; and peaked at 7.6% in 2006 (χ2 trend = 21.9; p < 0.001). Overall HIV seroprevalence was 3.5% among 15- to 19-year-old women, 7% among 25- to 29-year-old women, and 4.5% among women over age 40. There was an inverse relationship between parity (number of children borne) and HIV seroprevalence such that women of low parity had high HIV prevalence, and vice versa (χ2 trend = 13.1; p < 0.01). Respectively, 11.4%, 5.7%, and 5.5% of the pregnant women first using VCT in the first, second, and third trimesters of their pregnancy were found to be HIV-positive. All women testing HIV-positive were informed of their serostatus and the modes of preventing mother-to-child transmission of HIV. There is a relatively high uptake of VCT for PMTCT at this tertiary hospital, while an increasingly higher proportion of HIV-positive pregnant women are being identified and provided with opportunities to prevent HIV transmission to their babies. PMTCT should be universally accessible to women in developing countries.
African Journal of AIDS Research 2008, 7(1): 143–148