With the advent of lifelong therapy, interventions that sustain long-term engagement with PMTCT services are needed. We evaluated the impact of a structured peer support program on postpartum PMTCT retention among rural Nigerian women.
This prospective cohort study enrolled HIV+ pregnant women from 20 primary healthcare centers (PHCs). Ten PHCs with structured mentor mother (MM) support (training, supervision, client tracking, standard documentation and performance evaluation) were pair-matched with 10 routine unstructured peer support (PS) PHCs. Participants received viral load at 6 months and were followed up to 12 months postpartum. Viral suppression was defined as <20 copies/mL. Retention assessment was based on monthly and bi-monthly clinic visits in the first and second 6 month postpartum periods respectively. Participants with ≥5 of 9 expected visits were considered retained. A logistic regression model with generalized estimating equation was used to evaluate the effect of PS and other factors on retention.
Of 497 women enrolled, 260 and 237 were exposed to MM and routine PS respectively. Women with MM support (aOR = 6.6, 95% CI 3.4 to 13.1) and viral suppression at 6 months (aOR = 3.1, 95% CI 1.8 to 5.6) had higher odds of retention during the 12 month postpartum period. Age, distance from PHC, religion, gravidity, disclosure & time of diagnosis had no effect on retention.
Structure in peer support programs improved retention. Also, viral suppression had an independent effect on retention, indicating a strong link between adherence and sustained engagement; both being essential for PMTCT.
Built-in structure can significantly enhance the impact of PS interventions on PMTCT outcomes.
*International Research Center of Excellence, Institute of Human Virology Nigeria; and
†Institute of Human Virology