Prevention of mother-to-child HIV transmission (PMTCT) strategies include combined short-course antiretrovirals during pregnancy (Option A), triple-drug antiretroviral treament (ART) during pregnancy and breastfeeding (Option B), or lifelong ART (Option B+). The WHO also recommends ART for HIV treatment and prevention of sexual transmission of HIV. The impact of PMTCT strategies on prevention of sexual HIV transmission of HIV is not known. We estimated the population-level impact of PMTCT interventions on heterosexual HIV transmission in southwestern Uganda and KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa, two regions with different HIV prevalence and fertility rates.
At current coverage, Options B and B+ reduced heterosexual HIV incidence by about 5% and 15%, respectively, in both countries. With current ART and high PMTCT coverage, Option B+ reduced HIV incidence by 35% in Uganda and 19% in South Africa, while Option B had smaller, but meaningful, reductions. The greatest reductions in HIV incidence were achieved with high ART and PMTCT coverage. In this scenario, all PMTCT strategies yielded similar results.
We constructed and validated dynamic, stochastic, network-based HIV transmission models for each region. PMTCT Options A, B, and B+ were simulated over ten years under three scenarios: 1) current ART and PMTCT coverage, 2) current ART and high PMTCT coverage, and 3) high ART and PMTCT coverage. We compared adult HIV incidence after ten years of each intervention to Option A (and current ART) at current coverage.
Implementation of Options B/B+ reduces adult HIV incidence, with greater effect (relative to Option A at current levels) in Uganda than South Africa. These results are likely driven by Uganda's higher fertility rates.