A window into a public programme for prevention of mother-to-child transmission of HIV: evidence from a prospective clinical trial

  • M Cotton
  • S Kim
  • H Rabie
  • J Coetzee
  • S Nachman


Objectives. To evaluate efficacy of the antenatal, intrapartum and postnatal antiretroviral components of a public service prevention of mother-to-child (PMTCT) programme in infants.
Design. Analysis of prospectively collected screening data of demographic and MTCT-related interventions and HIV infection status of infants identified through HIV-specific DNA polymerase chain reaction.
Setting. Tygerberg Children’s Hospital, Western Cape, South Africa.
Subjects. HIV-infected women and their infants identified through participation in a public service PMTCT programme were referred for possible participation in a prospective study of isoniazid prophylaxis.
Interventions. Key components of the programme include voluntary counselling and testing, administration of zidovudine to the mother from between 28 and 34 weeks’ gestation and to the newborn infant for the first
week, single-dose nevirapine to the mother in labour and to the newborn shortly after birth, and free formula for 6 months.
Main outcome measures. Number and percentage of HIV-infected infants and extent of exposure to antenatal, intrapartum and postnatal antiretrovirals.
Results. Of 656 infants with a median age of 12.6 weeks, screened between 1 April 2005 through May 2006, 39 were HIV-infected, giving a transmission rate of 5.9% (95% confidence interval (CI) 4.4 - 8.0%). Antenatal prophylaxis was significantly associated with reduced transmission (odds ratio (OR) 0.43 (95% CI 0.21 - 0.94)) as opposed to intrapartum and postpartum components (p=0.85 and p=0.84, respectively). In multivariable analysis the antenatal component remained significant (OR=0.40 (95% CI 0.19 - 0.90)).
Conclusions. The antenatal phase is the most important antiretroviral component of the PMTCT programme, allowing most opportunity for intervention.

Journal Identifiers

eISSN: 2078-6751
print ISSN: 1608-9693