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Implementing family-focused HIV care and treatment: the first 2 years' experience of the mother-to-child transmission-plus program in Abidjan, Côte d'Ivoire.

Tropical Medicine & International Health

Young Adult, Sexual Partners, Program Evaluation, Pregnancy, Patient Acceptance of Health Care, Middle Aged, Infant, Newborn, Infant, Humans, HIV Seroprevalence, transmission, prevention & control, epidemiology, HIV Infections, Female, Family, Counseling, Cote d'Ivoire, Child, Preschool, Child, Adult, Adolescent

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      To describe a family-focused approach to HIV care and treatment and report on the first 2 years experience of implementing the mother-to-child transmission (MTCT)-plus program in Abidjan, Côte d'Ivoire. The MTCT-plus initiative aims to enroll HIV-infected pregnant and postpartum women in comprehensive HIV care and treatment for themselves and their families. Between August 2003 and August 2005, 605 HIV-infected pregnant or postpartum women and 582 HIV-exposed infants enrolled. Of their 568 male partners reported alive, 52% were aware of their wife's HIV status and 30% were tested for HIV; 53% of these tested partners were found to be HIV-infected and 78% enrolled into the program. Overall only 10% of the women enrolled together with their infected partner. On the other hand, the program involved half of the seronegative men who came for voluntary counselling and testing (VCT) in the care of their families. Of 1624 children <15 years reported alive by their mothers (excluding the last newborn infants of the most recent pregnancy systematically screened for HIV), only 10.8% were brought in for HIV testing, of whom 12.3% were found to be HIV-infected. LESSONS LEARNED AND CHALLENGES: The family-focused model of HIV care pays attention to the needs of families and household members. The program was successful in enrolling HIV women, their partners and infants in continuous follow-up. However engaging partners and family members of newly enrolled women into care involves numerous challenges such as disclosure of HIV status by women to their partners and family members. Further efforts are required to understand barriers for families accessing HIV services as strategies to improve partner involvement and provide access to care for other children in the households are needed in this West African urban setting.

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