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Background: Prevention of mother-to-child transmission (PMTCT) programmes aim to both eliminate vertical transmission of HIV and optimise the health and survival of infants born with HIV. Therefore, early infant diagnosis (EID) of HIV infection via DNA polymerase chain reaction (PCR) testing is a key component of PMTCT programming. We assessed the effectiveness of EID and PMTCT interventions at health-care facilities in Bujumbura, Burundi.
Methods: This was a prospective analytical study of infants born to HIV-positive mothers on antiretroviral therapy (ART), who were followed from December 2016 to March 2017 at 3 centres providing PMTCT services in Bujumbura. Babies enrolled in this study received once-daily nevirapine from birth through to 6 weeks of life, after which HIV DNA PCR testing was conducted.
Results: Of 122 HIV-exposed infants, 60 were boys and 62 were girls. The mother-to-child transmission rate at 6 weeks of life was 0.9%. Eighty-three (68%) of the women had commenced ART before pregnancy and 39 (32%) during pregnancy. The mean CD4 lymphocyte count was 653±308 cells/μl. Ninety-two (75.4%) of the pregnancies were planned, and 98 (80%) of the births were via spontaneous vaginal delivery. After birth, 111 (91.0%) infants were exclusively breastfed, and 11 (9.0%) infants received exclusive replacement feeding.
Conclusion: There was a low rate of transmission of HIV from women taking ART to children who were given nevirapine for the first 6 weeks of life. Infants of HIV-positive women can live healthy lives free from HIV infection if their mothers participate in PMTCT programmes.