Priscilla Tsondai recently completed her Master’s in Public Health (Epidemiology) degree at the University of Cape Town. Her thesis was titled: “HIV viral load monitoring in HIV-infected pregnant women established on antiretroviral therapy in Cape Town, South Africa”. The literature review discussed the role of HIV viral load and antiretroviral therapy (ART) on vertical transmission of HIV and compared the existing ART monitoring strategies and management of viremia in resource-limited settings. She described public sector HIV viral load testing patterns (frequency and timing) and HIV viral load levels for pregnant women conceiving on ART, before and during pregnancy. In addition, the analysis assessed factors associated with having a HIV viral load (VL) test performed and being viremic during pregnancy. Defining viremia as a VL >1000 copies/mL, the analysis concluded that 80% of women had VL tests done during pregnancy, and of these approximately 88% had VL <1000 copies/mL For women with a raised VL during pregnancy, under 60% had repeat VL tests performed before delivery; and of those that did, over half were still viremic on the second test.
Priscilla is currently working as a Research Officer and has just begun her PhD at the University of Cape Town. Her PhD will focus on the models of care and the models of transition to adult HIV services for HIV-infected adolescents within Southern Africa.