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Free Content Implementing a rural programme of prevention of mother-to-child transmission of HIV in Zimbabwe: first 18 months of experience

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Summary Objective 

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. Methods 

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. Results 

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. Conclusions 

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.
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Keywords: Zimbabwe; implementation; prevention of mother-to-child transmission of HIV; programme; rural

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1:  ISPED Zimbabwe PMTCT Programme, Harare, Zimbabwe 2:  PMTCT Unit, AIDS and TB Programme, Ministry of Health and Child Welfare, Harare, Zimbabwe 3:  Institut de Santé Publique, d'Epidemiologie et de Développement (ISPED), Université Victor Segalen, Bordeaux, France

Publication date: 01 July 2004

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