Original Research

HIV testing at birth: Are we getting it right?

Chanté Bisschoff, Jasmine Coulon, Ziva Isaacs, Lavinia van der Linde, Linley Wilson, Riana Van Zyl, Gina Joubert
Southern African Journal of HIV Medicine | Vol 20, No 1 | a951 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/sajhivmed.v20i1.951 | © 2019 Chanté Bisschoff, Jasmine Coulon, Ziva Isaacs, Lavinia van der Linde, Linley Wilson, Riana Van Zyl, Gina Joubert | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 29 January 2019 | Published: 27 June 2019

About the author(s)

Chanté Bisschoff, Department of Paediatrics and Child Health, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of the Free State, Bloemfontein, South Africa
Jasmine Coulon, Department of Paediatrics and Child Health, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of the Free State, Bloemfontein, South Africa
Ziva Isaacs, Department of Paediatrics and Child Health, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of the Free State, Bloemfontein, South Africa
Lavinia van der Linde, Department of Paediatrics and Child Health, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of the Free State, Bloemfontein, South Africa
Linley Wilson, Department of Paediatrics and Child Health, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of the Free State, Bloemfontein, South Africa
Riana Van Zyl, Department of Paediatrics and Child Health, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of the Free State, Bloemfontein, South Africa
Gina Joubert, Department of Biostatistics, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of the Free State, Bloemfontein, South Africa


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Abstract

Background: Birth polymerase chain reaction (PCR) testing improves early detection of HIV and allows for early treatment initiation. National guidelines exist, but it is unknown whether these are being implemented correctly.

Objectives: To determine whether HIV-exposed infants at the Mangaung University Community Partnership Programme Community Health Centre (MUCPP CHC) received PCR tests at birth, if HIV-positive infants were initiated on treatment, if follow-up dates were scheduled and the percentage of mothers or caregivers who returned to collect the results.

Methods: The study was a retrospective descriptive file audit (1304 files) of births from 01 January to 31 December 2016 at MUCPP CHC. The study sample was 428 infants born to HIV-positive mothers. The birth register was used to collect the infants’ HIV PCR test barcodes. The birth and 10-week PCR results were retrieved from an electronic database at the Virology Department, University of the Free State.

Results: In total, 375 infants received a birth PCR test (87.6%) of which 4 (1.1%) tested HIV positive and 327 (87.2%) negative. Follow-up tests were not scheduled. However, 145 (44.3%) HIV-negative infants returned for a 10-week test. Irrespective of the PCR birth result, 157 (36.7%) infants were brought for a 10-week follow-up test at which time 3 (1.9%) tested positive and 151 (96.2%) negative.

Conclusion: The majority of HIV-exposed infants received a PCR test at birth; however, the clinic is below the national target (90%) for HIV testing. A record-keeping system of infants’ visits does not exist at MUCPP CHC, making it impossible to determine whether HIV-positive infants were started on antiretroviral treatment.


Keywords

Birth HIV PCR testing; Follow-up testing; Prevention of mother-to-child Transmission; National guidelines; Documentation; Communication

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