BACKGROUND. Identifying and addressing gaps in the prevention of mother-to-child transmission of HIV (PMTCT) is required if South
Africa (SA) is to achieve targets for eliminating MTCT (eMTCT). Potential PMTCT gaps that increase MTCT risk include late maternal
HIV diagnosis, lack of or delayed antiretroviral therapy (ART) during pregnancy and breastfeeding, and lack of effective prophylaxis for
OBJECTIVES. To investigate, in near real time, PMTCT gaps among HIV-infected infants in three districts of KwaZulu-Natal Province, SA.
METHODS. Between May and September 2016, PMTCT co-ordinators from eThekwini, uMgungundlovu and uMkhanyakude districts
received daily email notification of all HIV polymerase chain reaction (PCR)-positive results. Co-ordinators reviewed facility records for
each infant to identify gaps in PMTCT care, including maternal age, timing of maternal HIV diagnosis, maternal treatment history and
maternal viral load (VL) monitoring. Data were submitted via the mobile phone SMS (text message) service using Rapid Pro technology
and analysed in Stata 14.
RESULTS. Data on PMTCT gaps were received for 367 (91.8%) of 400 infants with HIV PCR-positive results, within a median time of
12.5 days (interquartile range (IQR) 6 - 23). The median maternal age was 25 years (IQR 22 - 30), with 48 teenage mothers (15 - 19 years).
The sample size was too small to determine whether there were significant differences in PMTCT gaps between the 48 teenage mothers and
293 older (20 - 34 years) mothers. Of the mothers, 220 (60.0%) were first diagnosed prior to conception or at their first antenatal care (ANC)
visit, and 127 (34.6%) at or after delivery; 137 (37.3%) transmitted HIV to their infants despite receiving >12 weeks of ART. VL results were
unavailable for 70.0% of women. Only 41 (17.5%) of women known to be HIV-positive during ANC had confirmed virological suppression.
No statistically significant differences in PMTCT gaps were observed between districts, owing to small sample sizes in uMgungundlovu
CONCLUSIONS. The findings highlight the need to improve services during ANC, in particular prioritising maternal VL monitoring. We
intend to use improved technology to streamline data collection and reporting towards eMTCT.