• Parental and child-level predictors of HIV testing uptake, seropositivity and treatment initiation among children and adolescents in Cameroon

      Yumo, H.A.; Ajeh, R.A.; Sam-Agudu, N.A. (Public Library of Science, 2020)
      Background There is a growing body of evidence positioning targeted provider-initiated testing and counselling (tPITC, also known as index case testing) as a promising HIV case-finding and linkage strategy among children and adolescents. However, the effectiveness and efficiency of this strategy is limited by low HIV testing uptake and case detection rates. Despite this fact, there is very little literature on factors associated with HIV testing uptake, HIV seropositivity and ART-enrolment in tPITC implementation among African children. This study aims to bridge this information gap and contribute in improving the effectiveness and efficiency of tPITC among children and adolescents in Cameroon and beyond. Methods In three ART clinics where tPITC was previously inexistent, we introduced the routine implementation of this strategy by inviting parents living with HIV/AIDS in care to have their biological children (6 weeks-19 years) HIV-tested. Children of consenting parents were HIVtested; those testing positive were enrolled on ART. Parental and child-level characteristics associated with HIV testing uptake, seropositivity and ART-enrollment were assessed using bivariate and multivariate regression analysis at 5% significance level. Results We enrolled 1,236 parents, through whom 1,990 children/adolescents were recruited for HIV testing. Among enrolled parents, 46.2% (571/1,236) had at least one child tested, and 6.8% (39/571) of these parents had at least one HIV-positive child. Among enrolled children/adolescents, 56.7% (1,129/1,990) tested for HIV and 3.5% (40/1129) tested HIV-positive. Parental predictors of HIV testing uptake among children/adolescents were sex, occupation and duration on ART: Female [aOR = 1.6 (1.1-2.5)], office workers/students [aOR = 2.0 (1.2-3.3)], and parents with ART duration > 5 years [aOR = 2.0 (1.3-2.9)] had significantly higher odds to test a child than male, farmers/traders, and parents with ART duration < 5 years respectively. The only child-level predictor of testing uptake was age: Children < 18 months [aOR = 5(2-10)] had significantly higher odds to test for HIV than adolescents > 15 years. Parents of children identified as HIV-positive were more likely to be female, aged 40- 60 years, farmers/traders, widows/divorcees and not on ART. Children found HIV-positive and who were ART-enrolled were more likely to be female and aged 5-9 years. However, none of the above-mentioned associations was statistically significant. Conclusions Parents who were male, farmers/traders, and on ART for ? 5 years were less likely to test their children for HIV. Also, adolescents 10-19 years old were less likely to be tested. Therefore, these groups should be targeted with intensive counseling and follow-up to facilitate optimal testing uptake. No association was found between parental or child-level characteristics and HIV seropositivity among tested children. This finding prompts for further research to investigate approaches to better identify and target HIV testing to children/adolescents with the highest likelihood of HIV seropositivity. Copyright 2020 Yumo et al.