Where have all the children gone? High HIV prevalence in infants attending nutrition and inpatient entry points

Posted by Maria Codina on April 4, 2018 at 1:42 pm

Despite notable progress towards PMTCT, only 50% of HIV‐exposed infants in sub‐Saharan Africa were tested within the first 2 months of life and only 30% of HIV‐infected infants are on antiretroviral treatment. This study assessed HIV prevalence in infants and children receiving care at various service entry points in primary healthcare facilities in Uganda.


A total of 3600 infants up to 24 months of age were systematically enrolled and tested at four regional hospitals across Uganda. Six hundred infants were included and tested from six facility entry points: PMTCT, immunization, inpatient, nutrition, outpatient and community outreach services.


The traditional EID entry point, PMTCT, had a prevalence of 3.8%, representing 19.6% of the total HIV‐positive infants identified in the study. Fifty percent of the 117 identified HIV‐positive infants were found in the nutrition wards, which had a prevalence of 9.8% (p < 0.001 compared to PMTCT). Inpatient wards had a prevalence of 3.5% and yielded 17.9% of the HIV‐positive infants identified. Infants tested at immunization wards and through outreach services identified 0.8% and 1.7% of the HIV‐positive infants respectively, and had a prevalence of less than 0.3%.


Expanding routine early infant diagnosis screening beyond the traditional PMTCT setting to nutrition and inpatient entry points will increase the identification of HIV‐infected infants. Careful reflection for appropriate testing strategies, such as maternal re‐testing to identify new HIV infections and HIV‐exposed infants in need of follow‐up testing and care, at immunization and outreach services should be considered given the expectedly low prevalence rates. These findings may help HIV care programmes significantly expand testing to improve access to early infant diagnosis and paediatric treatment.

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