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Trop Med Int Health. 2013 Apr;18(4):451-60. doi: 10.1111/tmi.12072. Epub 2013 Feb 3.

Loss to follow-up before and after delivery among women testing HIV positive during pregnancy in Johannesburg, South Africa.

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Health Economics and Epidemiology Research Office, Department of Internal Medicine, School of Clinical Medicine, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa



HIV-positive pregnant women are at heightened risk of becoming lost to follow-up (LTFU) from HIV care. We examined LTFU before and after delivery among pregnant women newly diagnosed with HIV.


Observational cohort study of all pregnant women ≥18 years (N = 300) testing HIV positive for the first time at their first ANC visit between January and June 2010, at a primary healthcare clinic in Johannesburg, South Africa. Women (n = 27) whose delivery date could not be determined were excluded.


Median (IQR) gestation at HIV testing was 26 weeks (21-30). Ninety-eight per cent received AZT prophylaxis, usually started at the first ANC visit. Of 139 (51.3%) patients who were ART eligible, 66.9% (95% CI 58.8-74.3%) initiated ART prior to delivery; median (IQR) ART duration pre-delivery was 9.5 weeks (5.1-14.2). Among ART-eligible patients, 40.5% (32.3-49.0%) were cumulatively retained through 6 months on ART. Of those ART-ineligible patients at HIV testing, only 22.6% (95% CI 15.9-30.6%) completed CD4 staging and returned for a repeat CD4 test after delivery. LTFU (≥1 month late for last scheduled visit) before delivery was 20.5% (95% CI 16.0-25.6%) and, among those still in care, 47.9% (95% CI 41.2-54.6%) within 6 months after delivery. Overall, 57.5% (95% CI 51.6-63.3%) were lost between HIV testing and 6 months post-delivery.


Our findings highlight the challenge of continuity of care among HIV-positive pregnant women attending antenatal services, particularly those ineligible for ART.

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