Nairobi — The Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation (EGPAF) has launched a research study comparing approaches to continuing care for children exposed to HIV in Kenya.
The study, which compared follow-up results when HIV-exposed infants (HEI) services were provided within Maternal and Child Health (MCH) clinics and in specialized Comprehensive Care Clinics (CCCs) in Kenya, shows that the MCH clinic model provides better follow up to HIV-exposed children compared to the specialized Comprehensive Care Clinic model.
With the high number of children born to HIV-positive parents and exposed to HIV that were not coming back to the clinic after delivery in 2010, the study has influenced practices on the ground in Kenya. It has provided evidence that contributed to the MCH model being included in the National 2012 Prevention of Mother-to-Child Transmission of HIV (PMTCT) guidelines launched last week.
"More lower-level facilities - dispensaries and health centers - are now adopting the one-stop-shop model of HIV services provision, and higher-level facilities are providing mother-baby pair HIV services within the MCH clinics," said EGPAF lead researcher Dr. John Ong'ech.
The study revealed that infants in MCH are more likely to attend all postnatal visits. All infants in MCH also received an HIV antibody test within a year, which is critical for better care for the child.
"This study points us in the right direction. We cannot succeed in eliminating mother-to-child transmission of HIV unless HIV services are integrated into strengthened MCH services," said Charles Lyons, EGPAF President and CEO.
"Within a short time after EGPAF supported introduction of antiretroviral therapy (ART) services into MCH clinics in most countries where we work in Africa, the number of women initiated on ART has risen dramatically," said Lyons. "A woman should not have to go to multiple sites for multiple services. We should do everything possible for these services to be easy, reliable, accessible, and affordable - which means they need to come through the MCH setting."
The study, titled Provision of Services and Care for HIV-Exposed Infants: A Comparison of the Maternal and Child Health Clinic (MCH) and the Comprehensive Care Clinic Models, was conducted in two EGPAF-supported hospitals in the Bungoma and Vihiga districts in the Western province.
The findings of this peer-reviewed study were also published in the September issue of the International Journal of AIDS (JAIDS).