Reasons for Failure of Prevention of Mother-To-Child HIV Transmission in a Rural South African District Hospital

  • C Kendall
  • L Claessens
  • J Dorward
  • G Mfeka
  • K Gate


Further reduction of mother-to-child transmission (MTCT) of HIV requires improved understanding of the reasons for MTCT. We reviewed maternal and infant case notes for HIV positive infants diagnosed by polymerase chain reaction at Bethesda Hospital. Nineteen cases were analysed. Median gestation at first antenatal consultation (ANC) was 22.5 (interquartile range [IQR] 19.25–24). Eleven (57.9%) mothers were HIV positive at first ANC, whilst eight tested negative and later positive (2 antepartum, 6 postpartum). Median maternal CD4 was 408 cells/μL (IQR 318–531). Six (31.6%) received no antenatal antiretroviral therapy (ART) because they were diagnosed as HIV positive postpartum; 9 (47.3%) received antenatal ART and 3 (15.8%) were never initiated on ART. At 6 weeks postpartum, 5 infants (26.3%) were not on prophylactic nevirapine (NVP) because their mothers had not yet been diagnosed. Maternal seroconversion in pregnancy and breastfeeding, and possibly false-negative HIV tests, were important reasons for prevention of mother-to-child transmission (PMTCT) failure.


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eISSN: 2078-6751
print ISSN: 1608-9693