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J Int AIDS Soc. 2018 May;21(5):e25111. doi: 10.1002/jia2.25111.

Targeted HIV testing at birth supported by low and predictable mother-to-child transmission risk in Botswana.

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Harvard Medical School Doris Duke International Clinical Research Fellowship, Boston, MA, USA.
University of California, Los Angeles David Geffen School of Medicine, Los Angeles, CA, USA.
Botswana Harvard AIDS Institute Partnership, Gaborone, Botswana.
Department of Biostatistics, Harvard T.H Chan School of Public Health, Boston, MA, USA.
Department of Immunology and Infectious Diseases, Harvard T.H Chan School of Public Health, Boston, MA, USA.
Infectious Disease Division, Brigham and Women's Hospital, Boston, MA, USA.
National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, MD, USA.
Infectious Disease Division, Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston, MA, USA.



Most African countries perform infant HIV testing at 6 weeks or later. The addition of targeted testing at birth may improve retention in care, treatment outcomes and survival for HIV-infected infants.


HIV-exposed infants were screened as part of the Early Infant Treatment (EIT) study in Botswana. Screened infants were ≥35 weeks gestational age and ≥2000 g at birth. Risk factors for mother-to-child transmission (MTCT) were assessed by maternal obstetric card or verbally. Risk factors included <8 weeks ART in pregnancy, last known CD4 <250 cells/mm3 , last known HIV RNA >400 copies/mL, poor maternal ART adherence, lack of maternal zidovudine (ZDV) in labour, or lack of infant post-exposure prophylaxis. Infants underwent dried blood spot testing by Roche Cobas Ampliprep/Cobas Taqman HIV-1 qualitative PCR.


From April 2015 to April 2016, 2303 HIV-exposed infants were tested for HIV in the EIT study. Of these, 369 (16%) were identified as high risk for HIV infection by information available at birth, and 12 (0.5% overall, 3.25% of high risk) were identified as HIV positive at birth. All 12 positive infants were identified as high risk at the time of screening, and only 2 risk factors were required to identify all positive infants: either <8 weeks of maternal ART in pregnancy (75%) or lack of maternal HIV suppression at last test (25%).


In utero MTCT occurred only among infants identified as high risk at delivery, using information available from the mother or obstetric record. Birth testing that targets high-risk infants based on maternal ART receipt is likely to identify the majority of in utero HIV transmissions, and allows early ART initiation for these infants.


HIV ; children; mother-to-child transmission; paediatrics; vertical transmission; viral suppression

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