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PLoS One. 2017 Jun 29;12(6):e0179448. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0179448. eCollection 2017.

Prevention of mother-to-child transmission of HIV: Postpartum adherence to Option B+ until 18 months in Western Uganda.

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Institute of Tropical Medicine and International Health, Charité- Universitätsmedizin, Berlin, Germany.
Public Health Department, Mountains of the Moon University, Fort Portal, Uganda.
Holy Family Virika Hospital, Fort Portal, Uganda.
School of Public Health, College of Health Sciences, Makerere University, Kampala, Uganda.


Since 2012, the WHO recommends Option B+ for the prevention of mother-to-child transmission of HIV. This approach entails the initiation of lifelong antiretroviral therapy in all HIV-positive pregnant women, also implying protection during breastfeeding for 12 months or longer. Research on long-term adherence to Option B+ throughout breastfeeding is scarce to date. Therefore, we conducted a prospective observational cohort study in Fort Portal, Western Uganda, to assess adherence to Option B+ until 18 months postpartum. In 2013, we recruited 67 HIV-positive, Option B+ enrolled women six weeks after giving birth and scheduled them for follow-up study visits after six, twelve and 18 months. Two adherence measures, self-reported drug intake and amount of drug refill visits, were combined to define adherence, and were assessed together with feeding information at all study visits. At six months postpartum, 51% of the enrolled women were considered to be adherent. Until twelve and 18 months postpartum, adherence for the respective follow-up interval decreased to 19% and 20.5% respectively. No woman was completely adherent until 18 months. At the same time, 76.5% of the women breastfed for ≥12 months. Drug adherence was associated with younger age (p<0.01), lower travel costs (p = 0.02), and lower number of previous deliveries (p = 0.04). Long-term adherence to Option B+ seems to be challenging. Considering that in our cohort, prolonged breastfeeding until ≥12 months was widely applied while postpartum adherence until the end of breastfeeding was poor, a potential risk of postpartum vertical transmission needs to be taken seriously into account for Option B+ implementation.

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