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Evaluating the Impact of Zimbabwe's Prevention of Mother-to-Child HIV Transmission Program: Population-Level Estimates of HIV-Free Infant Survival Pre-Option A.



We estimated HIV-free infant survival and mother-to-child HIV transmission (MTCT) rates in Zimbabwe, some of the first community-based estimates from a UNAIDS priority country.


In 2012 we surveyed mother-infant pairs residing in the catchment areas of 157 health facilities randomly selected from 5 of 10 provinces in Zimbabwe. Enrolled infants were born 9-18 months before the survey. We collected questionnaires, blood samples for HIV testing, and verbal autopsies for deceased mothers/infants. Estimates were assessed among i) all HIV-exposed infants, as part of an impact evaluation of Option A of the 2010 WHO guidelines (rolled out in Zimbabwe in 2011), and ii) the subgroup of infants unexposed to Option A. We compared province-level MTCT rates measured among women in the community with MTCT rates measured using program monitoring data from facilities serving those communities.


Among 8568 women with known HIV serostatus, 1107 (12.9%) were HIV-infected. Among all HIV-exposed infants, HIV-free infant survival was 90.9% (95% confidence interval (CI): 88.7-92.7) and MTCT was 8.8% (95% CI: 6.9-11.1). Sixty-six percent of HIV-exposed infants were still breastfeeding. Among the 762 infants born before Option A was implemented, 90.5% (95% CI: 88.1-92.5) were alive and HIV-uninfected at 9-18 months of age, and 9.1% (95%CI: 7.1-11.7) were HIV-infected. In four provinces, the community-based MTCT rate was higher than the facility-based MTCT rate. In Harare, the community and facility-based rates were 6.0% and 9.1%, respectively.


By 2012 Zimbabwe had made substantial progress towards the elimination of MTCT. Our HIV-free infant survival and MTCT estimates capture HIV transmissions during pregnancy, delivery and breastfeeding regardless of whether or not mothers accessed health services. These estimates also provide a baseline against which to measure the impact of Option A guidelines (and subsequently Option B+).

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