Implementing a rural programme of prevention of mother-to-child transmission of HIV in Zimbabwe: first 18 months of experience.Trop Med Int Health. 2004 Jul; 9(7):774-83.TM
To report on activities and lessons learned during the first 18 months of a rural programme of prevention of mother-to-child transmission of HIV (PMTCT) in Zimbabwe.
The PMTCT services were introduced in Murambinda Mission Hospital (120 beds), Buhera, in 2001. Programme strategies consisted in recruiting counselling staff, training health professionals, improving mother-child health (MCH) facilities and conducting information, education and communication activities within the community to address HIV/AIDS awareness and stigma. The following components were implemented within MCH services: voluntary counselling and testing of HIV using rapid testing, nevirapine short regimen proposed to all HIV-infected mothers identified and their newborns, support to exclusive breastfeeding for 6- and 18-month mother-child follow-up. Routine monitoring data collected from August 2001 to February 2003 were used to estimate programme uptake.
Of 2471 pregnant women using antenatal services, 2298 were pre-test counselled, the acceptance of HIV testing reached 92.9%. Of the women who decided to take an HIV test, 1588 (74.3%) returned to collect their result. Overall HIV prevalence was 20.4% (n = 437); 326 of the HIV-positive women were counselled and 104 (24%) received complete mother-child antiretroviral prophylaxis.
Acceptability of HIV testing after counselling has remained above 90% since the onset of the programme. Collection of test results and mother-child follow-up are among the most challenging activities of the programme. A district approach and community participation are critical to develop PMTCT programmes in rural settings, even with reasonably good MCH services.