A cluster randomized controlled trial evaluating the efficacy of peer mentors to support South African women living with HIV and their infants
Rotheram-Borus MJ., Richter LM., Van Heerden A., Van Rooyen H., Tomlinson M., Harwood JM., Comulada WS., Stein A.
Objective: We evaluate the effect of clinic-based support by HIV-positive Peer Mentors, in addition to standard clinic care, on maternal and infant well-being among Women Living with HIV (WLH) from pregnancy through the infant's first year of life. Methods: In a cluster randomized controlled trial in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa, eight clinics were randomized for pregnant WLH to receive either: a Standard Care condition (SC; 4 clinics; n = 656 WLH); or an Enhanced Intervention (EI; 4 clinics; n = 544 WLH). WLH in the EI were invited to attend four antenatal and four postnatal meetings led by HIV-positive Peer Mentors, in addition to SC. WLH were recruited during pregnancy, and at least two post-birth assessment interviews were completed by 57% of WLH at 1.5, 6 or 12 months. EI's effect was ascertained on 19 measures of maternal and infant wellbeing using random effects regressions to control for clinic clustering. A binomial test for correlated outcomes evaluated EI's overall efficacy. Findings: WLH attended an average of 4.1 sessions (SD = 2.0); 13% did not attend any sessions. Significant overall benefits were found in EI compared to SC using the binomial test. Secondarily, over time, WLH in the EI reported significantly fewer depressive symptoms and fewer underweight infants than WLH in the SC condition. EI WLH were significantly more likely to use one feeding method for six months and exclusively breastfeed their infants for at least 6 months. Conclusions: WLH benefit by support from HIV-positive Peer Mentors, even though EI participation was partial, with incomplete follow-up rates from 6-12 months. Trial Registration: ClinicalTrials.gov NCT00972699 © 2014 Rotheram-Borus et al.