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Factors associated with retention in Option B+ in Malawi: a case control study.

  • Author(s): Hoffman, Risa M
  • Phiri, Khumbo
  • Parent, Julie
  • Grotts, Jonathan
  • Elashoff, David
  • Kawale, Paul
  • Yeatman, Sara
  • Currier, Judith S
  • Schooley, Alan
  • et al.


There are limited data on factors associated with retention in Option B+. We sought to explore the characteristics of women retained in Option B+ in Malawi, with a focus on the role of HIV disclosure, awareness of partner HIV status, and knowledge around the importance of Option B+ for maternal-child health. Methods We performed a case-control study of HIV-infected women in Malawi initiated on antiretroviral therapy (ART) under Option B+. Cases were enrolled if they met criteria for default from Option B+ (out of ART for >60 days), and controls were enrolled in approximately 3:1 ratio if they were retained in care for at least 12 months. We surveyed socio-demographic characteristics, HIV disclosure and awareness of partner HIV status, self-report about receiving pre-ART education, and knowledge of Option B+. Univariate logistic regression was performed to determine factors associated with retention. Multivariate logistic regression model was used to evaluate the relationship between HIV disclosure, Option B+ knowledge, and retention after adjusting for age, schooling, and travel time to clinic.


We enrolled 50 cases and 153 controls. Median age was 30 years (interquartile range (IQR) 25-34), and the majority (82%) initiated ART during pregnancy at a median gestational age of 24 weeks (IQR 16-28). Ninety-one per cent of the cases (39/43) who started ART during pregnancy defaulted by three months postpartum. HIV disclosure to the primary sex partner was more common among women retained in care (100% versus 78%, p < 0.001). Odds of retention were significantly higher among women with: age >25 years (odds ratio (OR) 2.44), completion of primary school (OR 3.06), awareness of partner HIV status (OR 5.20), pre-ART education (OR 6.17), higher number of correct answers to Option B+ knowledge questions (OR 1.82), and support while taking ART (OR 3.65). Pre-ART education and knowledge were significantly correlated (r = 0.43, p < 0.001). In multivariate analysis, awareness of partner HIV status (OR 4.07, 95% confidence interval (CI) 1.51-10.94, p = 0.02) and Option B+ knowledge (OR 1.60, 95% CI 1.15-2.23, p = 0.004) remained associated with retention.


Interventions that address partner disclosure and strengthen pre-ART education around the benefits of ART for maternal and child health should be evaluated to improve retention in Malawi's Option B+ programme.

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