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Open Access Early infant diagnosis and outcomes in HIV-exposed infants at a central and a district hospital, Northern Malawi

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Setting: Mzuzu Central Hospital (MZCH), Mzuzu, and Chitipa District Hospital (CDH), Chitipa, Malawi.

Objective: To compare management and outcomes of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) exposed infants in early infant diagnosis (EID) programmes at MZCH, where DNA polymerase chain reaction (PCR) testing is performed on site, and CDH, where samples are sent to MZCH, between 2013 and 2014.

Design: Retrospective cohort study.

Results: Of infants enrolled at MZCH (n = 409) and CDH (n = 176), DNA PCR results were communicated to the children's guardians in respectively 56% and 51% of cases. The median time from sample collection to guardians receiving results was 34 days for MZCH and 56 days for CDH. In both hospitals, only half of the dried blood spot (DBS) samples were collected between 6 and 8 weeks. More guardians from MZCH than CDH received test results within 1 month of sample collection (25% vs. 10%). Among the HIV-positive infants, a higher proportion at MZCH (92%) started antiretroviral therapy than at CDH (46%). The relative risk (RR) of death was higher among infants with late DBS collection (RR 1.3, 95%CI 1.0–1.7) or no collection (RR 5.8, 95%CI 4.6–7.2), and when guardians did not receive test results (RR 8.3, 95%CI 5.7–11.9).

Conclusion: EID programmes performed equally poorly at both hospitals, and might be helped by point-of-care DNA PCR testing. Better programme implementation and active follow-up might improve infant outcome and retention in care.
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Keywords: HIV-exposed infants; SORT IT; antiretroviral therapy; operational research; turnaround time

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Mzuzu Central Hospital, Mzuzu, Malawi, University of Malawi, College of Medicine, Blantyre, Malawi 2: Luke International, Mzuzu, Malawi, Pingtung Christian Hospital, Pingtung, Taiwan 3: Chitipa District Hospital, Chitipa, Malawi 4: Mzuzu Central Hospital, Mzuzu, Malawi 5: Northern Zone Health Office, Ministry of Health, Mzuzu, Malawi 6: Department of HIV and AIDS, Ministry of Health, Lilongwe, Malawi 7: Pingtung Christian Hospital, Pingtung, Taiwan 8: International Union Against Tuberculosis and Lung Disease, Paris, France, London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, London, UK

Publication date: 21 June 2017

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