Implementation and operational research: The impact of option B+ on the antenatal PMTCT cascade in Lilongwe, Malawi

Maria H. Kim, Saeed Ahmed, Mina C. Hosseinipour, Thomas P. Giordano, Elizabeth Y. Chiao, Xiaoying Yu, Chi Nguyen, Frank Chimbwandira, Peter N. Kazembe, Elaine J. Abrams

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

73 Scopus citations


Objective: In 2011, Malawi implemented Option B+ (B+), lifelong antiretroviral therapy (ART) for pregnant and breastfeeding women. We aimed to describe changes in service uptake and outcomes along the antenatal prevention of mother-to-child transmission (PMTCT) cascade post-B+ implementation. Design: Pre/post study using routinely collected program data from 2 large Lilongwe-based health centers. Methods: We compared the testing of HIV-infected pregnant women at antenatal care, enrollment into PMTCT services, receipt of ART, and 6-month ART outcomes pre-B+ (October 2009-March 2011) and post-B+ (October 2011-March 2013). Results: A total of 13,926 (pre) and 14,532 (post) women presented to antenatal care. Post-B+, a smaller proportion were HIV-tested (99.3% vs. 87.7% post-B+; P < 0.0001). There were 1654 (pre) and 1535 (post) HIV-infected women identified, with a larger proportion already known to be HIV-infected (18.1% vs. 41.2% post-B+; P < 0.0001) and on ART post-B+ (18.7% vs. 30.2% post-B+; P < 0.0001). A significantly greater proportion enrolled into the PMTCT program (68.3% vs. 92.6% post-B+; P < 0.0001) and was retained through delivery post-B+ (51.1% vs. 65% post-B+; P < 0.0001). Among those not on ART at enrollment, there was no change in the proportion newly initiating ART/antiretrovirals (79% vs. 81.9% post-B+; P 0.11), although median days to initiation of ART decreased [48 days (19, 130) vs. 0 days (0, 15.5) post-B+; P < 0.0001]. Among those newly initiating ART, a smaller proportion was alive on ART 6 months after initiation (89.3% vs. 78.8% post-B+; P 0.0004). Conclusions: Although several improvements in PMTCT program performance were noted with implementation of B+, challenges remain at several critical steps along the cascade requiring innovative solutions to ensure an AIDS-free generation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)e77-e83
JournalJournal of Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndromes
Issue number5
StatePublished - Apr 15 2015
Externally publishedYes


  • Africa
  • HIV
  • Malawi
  • Option B+
  • retention

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Infectious Diseases
  • Pharmacology (medical)


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