Modern day antiretroviral therapy allows HIV+ pregnant women to lower the likelihood of viral transmission to their infants before, during, and after birth from 20-45% to less than 5%. In developing countries, where non-facility births may outnumber facility births, infant access to safe antiretroviral medication during the critical first three days after birth is often limited. A single-dose, polyethylene pouch (“Pratt Pouch”) addresses this challenge by allowing the medication to be distributed to mothers during antenatal care.
The Pratt Pouch was introduced as part of a one year clinical feasibility study in two districts in Southern Province, Zambia. Participating nurses, community health workers, and pharmacists were trained before implementation. Success in achieving improved antiretroviral medication access was assessed via pre intervention and post intervention survey responses by HIV+ mothers.
Access to medication for HIV-exposed infants born outside of a health facility increased from 35% (17/51) before the introduction of the pouch to 94% (15/16) after (p<0.05). A non-significant increase in homebirth rates from 33% (pre intervention cohort) to 50% (post intervention cohort) was observed (p>0.05). Results remained below the national average homebirth rate of 52%. Users reported minimal spillage and a high level of satisfaction with the Pratt Pouch.
The Pratt Pouch enhances access to infant antiretroviral medication in a rural, non-facility birth setting. Wide scale implementation could have a substantial global impact on HIV transmission rates from mother to child.