• High acceptability of voluntary counselling and HIV-testing but unacceptable loss to follow up in a prevention of mother-to-child HIV transmission programme in rural Malawi: scaling-up requires a different way of acting.

      Manzi, M; Zachariah, R; Teck, R; Buhendwa, L; Kazima, J; Bakali, E; Firmenich, P; Humblet, P; Médecins sans Frontières-Luxembourg, Thyolo district, Luxembourg, Malawi. m.manzi@belgacom.net (Wiley-Blackwell, 2005-12)
      SETTING: Thyolo District Hospital, rural Malawi. OBJECTIVES: In a prevention of mother-to-child HIV transmission (PMTCT) programme, to determine: the acceptability of offering 'opt-out' voluntary counselling and HIV-testing (VCT); the progressive loss to follow up of HIV-positive mothers during the antenatal period, at delivery and to the 6-month postnatal visit; and the proportion of missed deliveries in the district. DESIGN: Cohort study. METHODS: Review of routine antenatal, VCT and PMTCT registers. RESULTS: Of 3136 new antenatal mothers, 2996 [96%, 95% confidence interval (CI): 95-97] were pre-test counselled, 2965 (95%, CI: 94-96) underwent HIV-testing, all of whom were post-test counselled. Thirty-one (1%) mothers refused HIV-testing. A total of 646 (22%) individuals were HIV-positive, and were included in the PMTCT programme. Two hundred and eighty-eight (45%) mothers and 222 (34%) babies received nevirapine. The cumulative loss to follow up (n=646) was 358 (55%, CI: 51-59) by the 36-week antenatal visit, 440 (68%, CI: 64-71) by delivery, 450 (70%, CI: 66-73) by the first postnatal visit and 524 (81%, CI: 78-84) by the 6-month postnatal visit. This left just 122 (19%, CI: 16-22) of the initial cohort still in the programme. The great majority (87%) of deliveries occurred at peripheral sites where PMTCT was not available. CONCLUSIONS: In a rural district hospital setting, at least 9 out of every 10 mothers attending antenatal services accepted VCT, of whom approximately one-quarter were HIV-positive and included in the PMTCT programme. The progressive loss to follow up of more than three-quarters of this cohort by the 6-month postnatal visit demands a 'different way of acting' if PMTCT is to be scaled up in our setting.
    • Motives, sexual behaviour, and risk factors associated with HIV in individuals seeking voluntary counselling and testing in a rural district of Malawi.

      Zachariah, R; Spielmann M P; Harries, A D; Buhendwa, L; Chingi, C; Medecins sans Frontieres, Thyolo, Malawi. zachariah@internet.lu (2003-04)
      A study was conducted among individuals seeking voluntary HIV counselling and testing (VCT) in order to (a) describe their motives and source(s) of information, (b) describe their sexual behaviour; and (c) identify risk factors associated with HIV infection. Of 723 individuals who sought VCT, the most common reason (50%) was recent knowledge of HIV/AIDS and a desire to know their HIV status. The majority (77%) underwent VCT after being encouraged by others who knew their status. Ninety five per cent reported sexual encounters, with 337 (49%) engaging in unprotected sex. HIV prevalence was 31% and an HIV-positive status was associated with being female, being over 25 years of age and/or being a farmer. There is a demand for VCT, and the service provides an opportunity for intensive education about HIV/AIDS prevention on a one-to-one basis. It could also be an entry point to prevention and care for those who are infected.