Tenofovir for prevention of mother to child transmission of hepatitis B in migrant women in a resource-limited setting on the Thailand-Myanmar border: a commentary on challenges of implementation.
Bierhoff M., Rijken MJ., Yotyingaphiram W., Pimanpanarak M., van Vugt M., Angkurawaranon C., Nosten F., Ehrhardt S., Thio CL., McGready R.
BACKGROUND:The aim of this manuscript is to highlight challenges in the implementation of maternal tenofovir disoproxil fumarate (tenofovir) for prevention of mother to child transmission (PMTCT) of hepatitis B virus (HBV) in resource limited setting. Current preventive strategies in resource-limited settings fail mainly due to prohibitive costs of hepatitis B immunoglobulin (HBIG) and a high proportion of homebirths, meaning both HBIG and hepatitis B birth dose vaccine are not given. A new strategy for PMTCT without the necessity of HBIG, could be daily tenofovir commenced early in gestation. Implementation challenges to early tenofovir for PMTCT can provide insight to elimination strategies of HBV as the burden of disease is high in resource-limited settings. METHODS:Challenges encountered during implementation of a study of tenofovir for PMTCT before 20 weeks gestation in rural and resource-limited areas on the Thailand-Myanmar border were identified informally from trial study logbooks and formally from comments from patients and staff at monthly visits. ClinicalTrials.gov Identifier: NCT02995005. MAIN BODY:During implementation 171 pregnant women were hepatitis B surface antigen (HBsAg) positive by point of-care test over 19 months (May-2018 until Dec-2019). In this resource-limited setting where historically no clinic has provided tenofovir for PMTCT of HBV, information provided by staff resulted in a high uptake of study screening (95.5% (84/88) when offered to pregnant women. False positive point-of-care rapid tests hinder a test and treat policy for HBV and development of improved rapid tests that include HBeAg and/or HBV DNA would increase efficiency. Integrated care of HBV to antenatal care, transport assistance and local agreements to facilitate access, could increase healthcare at this critical stage of the life course. As safe storage of medication in households in resource-limited setting may not be ideal, interactive counseling about this must be a routine part of care. CONCLUSION:Despite challenges, results from the study to date suggest tenofovir can be offered to HBV-infected women in resource-limited settings before 20 weeks gestation with a high uptake of screening, high drug accountability and follow-up, with provision of transportation support. This commentary has highlighted practical implementation issues with suggestions for strategies that support the objective of PMTCT and the World Health Organization goal of HBV elimination by 2030.