The US Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) previously found strong evidence that prenatal HIV screening reduced risk of mother-to-child transmission. The previous evidence review was conducted in 2012. Findings suggest that combination ART was highly effective at reducing risk of mother-to-child HIV transmission. Use of certain ART regimens during pregnancy was associated with increased risk of harms that may be mitigated by selection of ART regimen. The 2012 review found that avoidance of breastfeeding and cesarean delivery in women with viremia also reduced risk of transmission and that prenatal screening accurately diagnosed HIV infection.

2nd July 2019 • comment

HIV-exposed but uninfected (HEU) infants are at an increased risk of many infectious diseases that can contribute to the high mortality seen among HEU children. Maternal immunisation could be a promising strategy to reduce infections in HEU infants. However, very little research has explored the effect of HIV on the immunogenicity and effectiveness of vaccines given during pregnancy. The authors reviewed the available evidence on maternal immunisation among women living with HIV (WLWH) for all vaccines recommended, considered, or being investigated for routine or risk-based use during pregnancy. Of the 11 vaccines included, only three have been investigated in WLWH. Available evidence suggests that maternal HIV infection limits the immunogenicity of several vaccines, leaving HEU infants more susceptible to infection during their first few months of life. Whether maternal immunisation reduces the infectious morbidity and mortality associated with infectious diseases in HEU children remains unknown.

17th December 2018 • comment

Malawi's Ministry of Health led the National Evaluation of Malawi's PMTCT Program to obtain nationally representative data on maternal ART coverage and prevention of mother-to-child transmission (MTCT) effectiveness. This paper presents the early transmission data for infants aged 4–12 weeks. In multivariable logistic regression analysis, the odds of early MTCT were higher in mothers starting ART post partum (adjusted odds ratio 16·7, 95% CI 1·6–171·5; p=0·022) and in those not on ART with an unknown HIV status during pregnancy (19·1, 8·5–43·0; p<0·0001) than in mothers on ART before pregnancy. Among HIV-exposed infants, 98·0% (95% CI 96·9–99·1) were reported by the mother to have received infant nevirapine prophylaxis, and only 45·6% (34·8–56·4) were already enrolled in an exposed infant HIV care clinic at the time of study screening. These data suggest that Malawi's decentralisation of ART services has resulted in higher ART coverage and lower early MTCT. However, the uptake of services for HIV-exposed infants remains suboptimal.

4th December 2018 • comment