Article abstract


Introduction: significant progress has been made with respect to the initiation of children on antiretroviral therapy (ART) in Southern Africa including Swaziland, however retention of these children in care poses a major challenge. The aim of the study was to assess retention to care in children testing HIV positive taking into account the number of return child welfare care (CWC) visits the child made.

 

Methods: a retrospective cross sectional study and was conducted at 4 facilities in Swaziland. All children who were HIV infected from 0 to 18 months were identified using the child welfare register (CWC). Infant characteristics were obtained from the child welfare register and early infant diagnosis logbooks. Proportion of patients retained in care were calculated at three, six, nine and twelve months.

 

Results: of the 32 HIV positive children identified tested between December 2014 up to July 2016, sixty eight percent (n = 22) of the children that tested HIV positive were retained at three months, 40.6% at six months, 18.8% at nine months and 12.5% at twelve months. Children that resided in urban areas, more male than female children, children from mothers who were on antiretroviral treatment, children initiated on antiretroviral treatment, mothers on antiretroviral treatment for more than one year and children who received Infant Nevirapine were more likely to be retained.

 

Conclusion: facilities are performing well in terms of identifying HIV positive children within the first two months of life and linking them into care. However, as time progresses the retention of children in care declines. Innovative strategies need to be developed to enhance patient retention.