Cluster-Randomized Controlled Study of SMS Text Messages for Prevention of Mother-to-Child Transmission of HIV in Rural Kenya

March 2017 - Structural Prevention

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Kassaye, S.G., Ong'ech, J., Sirengo, M., et al. AIDS Research and Treatment (December 2016), doi:10.1155/2016/1289328.

This study assessed the utility of short message service (SMS) text messages to improve uptake of antenatal and prevention of mother-to-child transmission (PMTCT) services by improving communication between women and their health providers in Nyanza, Kenya. The cluster-randomized study focused on government-supported clinical sites, enrolling 550 women (June 2012–July 2013). Results indicated that SMS text messages had no significant effect on key PMTCT milestones (uptake and adherence to antiretrovirals, or ARVs, among mothers and infants, facility-based deliveries, or infant HIV testing at six weeks of age). However, communication increased in both groups during successive visits, with the intervention arm showing greater cumulative increases in communication by the time of delivery compared to the control arm. Additionally, very high uptake of ARVs and infant HIV testing was noted in both the intervention and control arms (86.8% and 83.7%, respectively)—higher than that reported in program data from facilities within the region. The authors said that retraining health workers on PMTCT may have led to improvements in program implementation, and that improvement may have been mediated through the increase in communication observed in both the intervention and control sites. They concluded that the study provides evidence for the potential role of increased communication, by text messages, phone calls, or in person visits, on effective PMTCT program implementation.

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