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AIDS Care. 2005 May;17(4):466-70.

Exploring socio-economic conditions and poor follow-up rates of HIV-exposed infants in Johannesburg, South Africa.

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Wits Paediatric HIV Working Group, Johannesburg, South Africa.


In 2002, more than 280,000 HIV-exposed babies were born in South Africa. According to international PMTCT guidelines, these children require follow-up to 12 months of age. Worldwide, the high loss to follow-up rates experienced by PMTCT programs precludes them from identifying and managing HIV-infected children. Socio-economic factors have been identified as potential contributors to poor follow-up. A small descriptive study to examine socio-economic circumstances of women attending the Coronation Women and Children's Hospital PMTCT program was undertaken. Cross-sectional data from 176 women, interviewed at their infants' 12-month visit, was collected using a semi-structured questionnaire. Socio-economic factors such as poverty, geographical relocation and a lack of paternal support may affect the capacity of families to comply with the PMTCT follow-up program. Fifty-seven percent of mothers were unemployed, 25% of fathers did not support their children and only 58% of children remained resident in Johannesburg at the 12-month visit. The lack of follow-up of HIV-infected children denies them access to adequate medical care. Understanding the socio-economic factors that affect the ability of communities to comply with PMTCT programs will assist resource-poor countries in devising strategies to achieve follow-up of HIV-exposed infants.

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