Research

Quality and turnaround times of viral load monitoring under prevention of mother-to-child transmission of HIV Option B+ in six South African districts with a high antenatal HIV burden

N K Ngandu, D F Nsibande, V Magasana, W Chirinda, T Mbira, G G Sherman, A E Goga

Abstract


Background. Barriers to monitoring maternal HIV viral load (VL) and achieving 90% viral suppression during pregnancy and breastfeeding still need to be understood in South Africa (SA).

Objectives. To measure quality of VL care and turnaround times (TATs) for returning VL results to women enrolled in the prevention of mother-to-child transmission of HIV (PMTCT) programme in primary healthcare facilities.

Methods. Data were obtained from a 2018 cross-sectional evaluation of the PMTCT Option B+ programme in six SA districts with high antenatal and infant HIV prevalence. Quality of VL care was measured as the proportion of clients reporting that results were explained to them. TATs for VL results were calculated using dates abstracted from four to five randomly selected facility-based client records to report overall facility ‘short TAT’ (≥80% of records with TAT ≤7 days). Logistical regression and logit-based risk difference statistics were used.

Results. Achieving overall short TAT was uncommon. Only 50% of facilities in one rural district, zero in one urban metro district and 9 - 38% in other districts had short TAT. The significant difference between districts was influenced by the duration of keeping results in facilities after receipt from the laboratory. Expected quality of VL care received ranged between 66% and 85%. Client-related factors significantly associated with low quality of care, observed in two urban districts and one rural district, included lower education, recent initiation of antiretroviral treatment and experiencing barriers to clinic visits. Experiencing clinic visit barriers was also negatively associated with short TATs.

Conclusions. We demonstrate above-average quality of care and delayed return of results to PMTCT clients. Context-specific interventions are needed to shorten TATs.


Authors' affiliations

N K Ngandu, Health Systems Research Unit, South African Medical Research Council, Cape Town, South Africa; Current affiliation: HIV Prevention Research Unit, South African Medical Research Council, Cape Town, South Africa

D F Nsibande, Health Systems Research Unit, South African Medical Research Council, Cape Town, South Africa; Current affiliation: HIV Prevention Research Unit, South African Medical Research Council, Cape Town, South Africa

V Magasana, Health Systems Research Unit, South African Medical Research Council, Cape Town, South Africa; Current affiliation: HIV Prevention Research Unit, South African Medical Research Council, Cape Town, South Africa

W Chirinda, Health Systems Research Unit, South African Medical Research Council, Cape Town, South Africa

T Mbira, Health Systems Research Unit, South African Medical Research Council, Cape Town, South Africa; Current affiliation: HIV Prevention Research Unit, South African Medical Research Council, Cape Town, South Africa

G G Sherman, Department of Paediatrics and Child Health, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of the Witwatersrand; and Centre for HIV and STIs, National Institute for Communicable Diseases, Johannesburg, South Africa; National Institute for Communicable Diseases, National Health Laboratory Service, Johannesburg, South Africa

A E Goga, Health Systems Research Unit, South African Medical Research Council, Cape Town, South Africa; Current affiliation: HIV Prevention Research Unit, South African Medical Research Council, Cape Town, South Africa; Department of Paediatrics, School of Medicine, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Pretoria, South Africa

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Keywords

HIV viral load monitoring; Turnaround times; Prevention of mother-to-child transmission of HIV; PMTCT

Cite this article

South African Medical Journal 2021;111(8):759-767. DOI:10.7196/SAMJ.2021.v111i8.15496

Article History

Date submitted: 2021-08-02
Date published: 2021-08-02

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