The case for Option B and Optional B+: Ensuring that South Africa’s commitment to eliminating mother-to-child transmission of HIV becomes a reality

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Southern African Journal of Hiv Medicine

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In a previous issue of the Southern African Journal of HIV Medicine, Pillay and Black summarised the trade-offs of the safety of efavirenz use in pregnancy (Pillay P, Black V. Safety, strength and simplicity of efavirenz in pregnancy. Southern African Journal of HIV Medicine 2012;13(1):28-33.). Highlighting the benefits of the World Health Organization’s proposed options for the prevention of mother-to-child transmission (PMTCT) of HIV, the authors argued that the South African government should adopt Option B as national PMTCT policy and pilot projects implementing Option B+ as a means of assessing the individual- and population-level effect of the intervention. We echo this call and further propose that the option to remain on lifelong antiretroviral therapy, effectively adopting PMTCT Option B+, be offered to pregnant women following the cessation of breastfeeding, for their own health, following the provision of counselling on associated benefits and risks. Here we highlight the benefits of Options B and B+.