Integration of Antenatal Syphilis Screening in an Urban HIV Clinic: A Feasibility Study

Type Journal Article - BMC Infectious Diseases
Title Integration of Antenatal Syphilis Screening in an Urban HIV Clinic: A Feasibility Study
Volume 15
Publication (Day/Month/Year) 2015
Background: Syphilis infection during pregnancy leads to avoidable morbidity and mortality and remains a significant problem in sub-Saharan Africa. Despite global initiatives to increase the proportion of pregnant women screened, implementation has been slow. We sought to investigate the feasibility of adding syphilis screening within an integrated antenatal HIV clinic.

Methods: Pregnant women attending the HIV antenatal clinic were sequentially enrolled and consenting participants answered a questionnaire on sexual behavior and previous pregnancies, provided sociodemographic data, and were tested using rapid plasmin reagin (RPR). If positive, participants were treated with benzathine penicillin. All were given a partner notification slip and were followed up after delivery to determine birth outcomes.

Results: 584 of 606 (95.7%) women approached and consented to test for syphilis. 570 women were enrolled (median age 29 (IQR 25–32) with a median (IQR) CD4 of 372 (257–569) cells/µL). Of the 5.1% (29/570) with a positive RPR, all were asymptomatic, were successfully contacted, and treated with benzathine penicillin without adverse reactions. Overall, 61 (12.1%) of the participants had an adverse birth outcome. In the bivariate analysis, only age was significantly different between those with and without a positive RPR (RR = 1.15, 95% CI 1.065-1.248; p < 0.001). Partners of only 10 (34.5%) participants returned for treatment.

Conclusions: Structural interventions such as opt-out testing for syphilis within integrated HIV-antenatal care clinics are feasible and capitalize on the excellent care programs that have already been established for HIV care. Novel approaches are required for partner notification.

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