Background: Despite improvement in HIV prevention of mother-to-child transmission
(PMTCT), there are still over 1,500 African infants newly infected daily. PMTCT elimination requires
antiretroviral therapy (ART) throughout pregnancy and breastfeeding periods, while early infant
diagnosis (EID) of HIV implies early treatment for those infected. Our study aimed at assessing the utility of EID program
data in evaluating the implementation of PMTCT program in Cameroon, and in identifying the efficacy of existing
PMTCT interventions and breastfeeding options on the events of HIV vertical transmission.
Methods: A study was conducted from 2010-2011 using PMTCT data from EID sites of six regions of Cameroon.
PMTCT ARV regimens, breastfeeding options, and the child’s HIV DNA-polymerase chain reaction (PCR) results were
recorded. Statistical analyses were performed using Mann Whitney U and Fisher exact tests, with p<0.05 considered
Results: A total of 2,505 mother-child pairs received ART, resulting is 4.3% (93) vertical transmission, against 31.3%
(284/906) among mother-child pairs without exposure to any PMTCT intervention; p<0.00001. A statistically significant
difference (p<0.00001) was also found between formula feeding (FF) (5.9%) versus exclusive breastfeeding (EBF)
(12.5%), as well as between EBF versus mixed feeding (MF) (30%). With FF, when both mother-child pairs received
PMTCT, only 2.9% (47/1603) vertical transmission was recorded versus 19.9% (48/241) for mother-child pairs without
intervention; p<0.00001. Transmission rates were similar across infant age range [2.7% (10/376) for age ≤6 weeks, versus
2.5% (43/1807) for age >6 weeks-6 months]. Interestingly, babies aged 6 weeks receiving FF showed a significantly
lower transmission rate (3.2%, 9/277) as compared to their counterparts with EBF (7.7%, 12/156); p<0.00001.
Conclusion: Using EID dataset, it appears that considerable reduction in HIV MTCT may be achievable through access to
ARV (option B+) and adequate infant feeding option (especially FF) in Cameroon. EID programme is therefore an
effective routine approach for PMTCT programme evaluation in resource-limited settings.