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Open Access Highly Accessed Research article

Progress in prevention of mother-to-child transmission of HIV infection in Ukraine: results from a birth cohort study

Claire Thorne1*, Igor Semenenko2, Tatyana Pilipenko2, Ruslan Malyuta2 and the Ukraine European Collaborative Study Group

Author Affiliations

1 MRC Centre of Epidemiology for Child Health, UCL Institute of Child Health, University College London, UK

2 Perinatal Prevention of AIDS Initiative, Odessa, Ukraine

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BMC Infectious Diseases 2009, 9:40  doi:10.1186/1471-2334-9-40

Published: 7 April 2009

Abstract

Background

Ukraine was the epicentre of the HIV epidemic in Eastern Europe, which has the most rapidly accelerating HIV epidemic world-wide today; national HIV prevalence is currently estimated at 1.6%. Our objective was to evaluate the uptake and effectiveness of interventions for prevention of mother-to-child transmission (PMTCT) over an eight year period within operational settings in Ukraine, within the context of an ongoing birth cohort study.

Methods

The European Collaborative Study (ECS) is an ongoing birth cohort study in which HIV-infected pregnant women identified before or during pregnancy or at delivery were enrolled and their infants prospectively followed. Three centres in Ukraine started enrolling in 2000, with a further three joining in September 2006.

Results

Of the 3356 women enrolled, 21% (689) reported current or past injecting drug use (IDU). Most women were diagnosed antenatally and of those, the proportion diagnosed in the first/second trimester increased from 47% in 2000/01 (83/178) to 73% (776/1060) in 2006/07 (p < 0.001); intrapartum diagnosis was associated with IDU (Adjusted odds ratio 4.38; 95%CI 3.19–6.02). The percentage of women not receiving any antiretroviral prophylaxis declined from 18% (36/205) in 2001 to 7% in 2007 (61/843) (p < 0.001). Use of sdNVP alone substantially declined after 2003, with a concomitant increase in zidovudine prophylaxis. Median antenatal zidovudine prophylaxis duration increased from 24 to 72 days between 2000 and 2007. Elective caesarean section (CS) rates were relatively stable over time and 34% overall. Mother-to-child transmission (MTCT) rates decreased from 15.2% in 2001 (95%CI 10.2–21.4) to 7.0% in 2006 (95%CI 2.6–14.6). In adjusted analysis, MTCT risk was reduced by 43% with elective CS versus vaginal delivery and by 75% with zidovudine versus no prophylaxis.

Conclusion

There have been substantial improvements in use of PMTCT interventions in Ukraine, including earlier diagnosis of HIV-infected pregnant women and increasing coverage with antiretroviral prophylaxis and the initial MTCT rate has more than halved. Future research should focus on hard-to-reach populations such as IDU and on missed opportunities for further reducing the MTCT rate.