Progress towards the UNAIDS 95-95-95 targets among pregnant women in South Africa: Results from the 2017 and 2019 national Antenatal HIV Sentinel Surveys

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Objectives The UNAIDS 95-95-95 global targets for epidemic control aim to ensure by 2030 that 95% of HIV-positive people know their HIV status, 95% of people diagnosed with HIV receive sustained antiretroviral therapy (ART), and 95% of people on ART have viral suppression. While data on the first and second 95 targets are routinely reported nationally, data on the third 95 target are not available for pregnant women in South Africa. The lack of data on the third 95 target limits the inclusion of low viral suppression as one of the contributing factors in MTCT root cause analyses. This study assessed progress towards the 95-95-95 targets among pregnant women between the ages of 15–49 years attending public health facilities in South Africa. Method Data were obtained from two consecutive national cross-sectional antenatal HIV sentinel surveys conducted between 1 October and 15 November in both 2017 and 2019. In each survey, data on age, knowledge of HIV status, ART initiation, and geographical location (province) were extracted from medical records. A blood specimen was collected from each woman and tested for HIV. Viral load tests were performed on HIV-positive specimens. Descriptive and multiple logistic regression analyses were performed to examine association between province and viral suppression (defined as viral load <50 copies/mL) using the combined dataset (i.e., both 2017 and 2019 data combined). All analyses considered the survey design. Results Of 10 065 and 11 321 HIV-positive women included in the 2017 and 2019 surveys, respectively, 96.0% (95% confidence interval (CI): 95.6–96.4%) and 97.6% (95% CI: 97.3–97.8%) knew their HIV-positive status; 86.6% (95% CI: 85.9–87.3%) and 96.0% (95% CI: 95.6–96.4%) of those who knew their HIV status were receiving ART; while 64.2% (95% CI: 63.2–65.2%) and 66.0% (95% CI: 65.1–66.8%) of those receiving ART were virally suppressed. Achievement of the third 95 target significantly varied by province ranging from 33.9–72.6% in 2017 and 43.4–77.3% in 2019. Knowledge of HIV-positive status, ART initiation, and viral suppression increased in both 15–24 and 25–49 year age groups between 2017 and 2019. In a multivariable analysis adjusting for survey year, gravidity, and education, the odds of viral suppression significantly varied by province (except KwaZulu-Natal and Western Cape, other provinces were less likely to attain viral suppression compared to Gauteng), age (adjusted odds ratio (AOR) for 15–24 years vs 25–49 years: 0.7, 95% CI: 0.6–0.8), and timing of ART initiation (AOR for ART initiation during pregnancy vs before pregnancy: 0.4, 95% CI: 0.5–0.6). Conclusion Although in 2019 the first and second 95 targets were achieved among pregnant women, meeting the third 95 target remains a challenge. This study highlighted the importance of promoting early ART initiation and the need to target young women in efforts to improve progress towards the third 95 target. Additionally, the provincial variation in viral suppression could be further investigated in future studies to identify and address the root causes underlying these differences.



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