Background: Paediatric and Perinatal HIV/AIDS remain significant health challenges in the Caribbean where the HIV seroprevalence is second only to Sub-Saharan Africa.
Method: We describe a collaborative approach to the prevention, treatment and care of HIV in pregnant women, infants and children in Jamaica. A team of academic and government healthcare personnel collaborated to address the paediatric and perinatal HIV epidemic in Greater Kingston as a model for Jamaica (population 2.6 million, HIV seroprevalence 1.5%). A five-point plan was utilized and included leadership and training, preventing mother-to-child transmission (pMTCT), treatment and care of women, infants and children, outcomes-based research and local, regional and international outreach.
Results: A core group of paediatric/perinatal HIV professionals were trained, including paediatricians, obstetricians, public health practitioners, nurses, microbiologists, data managers, information technology personnel and students to serve Greater Kingston (birth cohort 20 000). During September 2002 to August 2007, over 69 793 pregnant women presented for antenatal care. During these five years, significant improvements occurred in uptake of voluntary counselling (40% to 91%) and HIVtesting (53% to 102%). Eight hundred and eighty-three women tested HIV-positive with seroprevalence rates of 1–2% each year. The use of modified short course zidovudine or nevirapine in the first three years significantly reduced mother-to-child transmission (MTCT) of HIV from 29% to 6% (RR 0.27; 95% CI – 0.10, 0.68). During 2005 to 2007 using maternal highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART) with zidovudine and lamivudine with either nevirapine, nelfinavir or lopinavir/ritonavir and infant zidovudine and nevirapine, MTCT was further reduced to an estimated 1.6% in Greater Kingston and 4.75% islandwide. In five years, we evaluated 1570 children in four-weekly paediatric infectious diseases clinics in Kingston, St Andrew and St Catherine and in six rural outreach sites throughout Jamaica; 24% (377) had HIV/AIDS and 76% (1193) were HIV-exposed. Among the infected children, 79% (299 of 377) initiated HAART, resulting in reduced HIV-attributable childhood morbidity and mortality islandwide. An outcomes-based research programme was successfully implemented.
Conclusion: Working collaboratively, our mission of pMTCT of HIV and improving the quality of life for families living and affected by HIV/AIDS in Jamaica is being achieved.