Skip to main content

Data from: Implementation of Option B and a fixed-dose combination antiretroviral regimen for prevention of mother-to-child transmission of HIV in South Africa: a model of uptake and adherence to care

Cite this dataset

Maskew, Mhairi et al. (2020). Data from: Implementation of Option B and a fixed-dose combination antiretroviral regimen for prevention of mother-to-child transmission of HIV in South Africa: a model of uptake and adherence to care [Dataset]. Dryad.



Initiating and retaining pregnant women on antiretroviral therapy (ART) to prevent mother-to-child HIV transmission (PMTCT) remains a major challenge facing African HIV programs, particularly during the critical final months prior to delivery. In 2013, South Africa implemented its “Option B” PMTCT regimen (three-drug ART throughout pregnancy and breastfeeding, regardless of maternal CD4 count) and introduced once-daily fixed-dose combinations and lifelong ART. Currently, the uptake of Option B and its possible impact on adherence to PMTCT during the critical final months of pregnancy is unclear.

Materials and Methods 

We prospectively collected visit data from a cohort of adult, HIV-infected, pregnant women between July 2013-August 2014 to estimate three models of adherence to PMTCT during the final 16 weeks immediately preceding delivery. Adherence was defined according to possession of antiretroviral drugs, which was inferred from clinic visit records under varying assumptions in each model. We describe uptake of the PMTCT regimen, gestational age at initiation, and model possible scenarios of adherence through delivery after the implementation of Option B.


Among 138 women enrolled (median (IQR) age 28 years (24-32), median CD4 count 378 cells/mm3), median (IQR) gestational age at initiation was 22 weeks (16-26). Estimates of adherence during the final 16 weeks of pregnancy prior to delivery ranged from 75% (52-89%) under the best case scenario assumptions to 52% (30-75%) under the worst case scenario assumptions. Estimates of the proportion of women who would achieve 80% adherence to PMTCT were <50% across all models.


Despite the switch to Option B and once-daily dosing, South African women continue to initiate PMTCT late in pregnancy, and estimations of regimen adherence, as modelled using PMTCT visit attendance data, is poor, with <50% of women reaching 80% adherence during final months of pregnancy across all models. Further guideline changes and interventions are needed to achieve vertical transmission goals.

Trial Registration

This study was nested within the original RapIT randomized controlled trial which was registered on (Registration number) NCT01710397 on September 7, 2012 and the South African National Clinical Trials Register DOH-27-0213-4177. The first participant in the RapIT study was enrolled on May 8th, 2013.


The data utilized in this study were collected at a public-sector primary health clinic (PHC) in Johannesburg, South Africa. It is located in an informal settlement on the edge of the city with a large population of immigrants from neighboring countries and patients from other South African provinces. It provides a full range of primary healthcare services, including antenatal care (ANC), maternal and child health, HIV testing and counseling, ART initiation, and ART management. Under South African guidelines (8), women are advised to make at least four antenatal care visits prior to delivery, starting at 14 weeks’ gestation. PMTCT guidelines increased the required number of visits, however, as clinics standard practice was to provide only one month of ARV medication at a time during the study period. The clinic does not have a delivery ward; referral for delivery was to either a nearby hospital or one of three maternal obstetric units (MOUs) located 4, 5.5, and 7 kilometers from the clinic, respectively. At least one antenatal clinic visit was needed for a woman to obtain an antenatal care card, which is required to assure access to a hospital or MOU for delivery. 

We sequentially enrolled adult (≥18 years old), HIV-infected, pregnant women at the earliest clinic visit for a positive HIV test, provision of a blood sample for a CD4 count, or first ANC visit between July 4, 2013 and August 14, 2014. Women who were already on ART for their own health or who indicated that they did not intend to seek the remainder of their antenatal care at the study clinic were excluded. After informed consent, the women were administered a questionnaire eliciting information about demographic and socioeconomic characteristics; previous pregnancies, health-seeking behavior and exposure to PMTCT; normal activities and employment, and the costs the patient incurred per clinic visit. Study patients were then followed by passive medical record review, using the site’s and delivery facility’s routine patient records, until delivery. These records included antenatal and labour ward registries as well as an electronic medical record system, TherapyEdge-HIVTM. Fields collected included dates of antenatal clinic visits, gravidity and parity, gestational age at first visit and predicted delivery date, date of HIV test, ARV regimen prescribed, and baseline CD4 count. Not all data for all study subjects could be found in the routine records maintained by the study site, nor could confirmation of all deliveries be found at the referral facilities. Viral load test results were not available for the majority of study participants, as most had spent fewer than 6 months on ART at the time of delivery


National Institutes of Health, Award: U01 AI100015