Integrated maternal and child health (MCH) services improve women
’s postpartum antiretroviral therapy (ART) outcomes during breastfeeding, however long-term outcomes
to general ART services remain unknown.
The MCH-ART trial demonstrated that maternal retention
and viral suppression
at 12 months postpartum were improved significantly among women
randomized to integrated MCH services continued in the antenatal clinic through cessation of breastfeeding (MCH-ART arm) compared to immediate transfer
to general ART services postpartum (standard of care [SOC]). We reviewed electronic health records for all women
who participated in the MCH-ART trial to ascertain retention
and gaps in care and invited all women
for a study visit 36-60 months postpartum including viral load testing.
Of 471 women
in MCH-ART, 450 (96%) contributed electronic health record data and 353 (75%) completed the study visit (median 44 months postpartum). At this time, outcomes were identical in both trial arms: 67% retained in care (p=0.994); 56% with viral loads <50 copies/mL (p=0.751). Experiencing a gap in care after delivery was delayed in the MCH-ART arm with 17%, 36% and 45% of women
experienced a gap in care by 12, 24, and 36 months postpartum compared to 35%, 48% and 57% in the SOC arm, respectively.
The benefits of integrated maternal HIV and child health care did not persist after transfer
to general ART services. The transfer
postpartum to routine adult care is a critical period requiring interventions to support continuity of HIV care.