Meet the CIPHER grantees

Tamsin Phillips

Year awarded: 2020
Institution: University of Cape Town
Research site: South Africa
Primary mentor: Landon Myer, University of Cape Town

Tamsin Phillips is a maternal and child health researcher in the School of Public Health & Family Medicine, University of Cape Town. She recently completed a Fogarty Global Health postdoctoral fellowship. Her research interests are in strengthening the continuum of care for mothers living with HIV and their children.

“Routinely collected electronic data provide a unique opportunity to identify gaps in HIV care and intervene in real time. This CIPHER Grant will leverage existing data systems for targeted tracing of mothers and infants along the PMTCT cascade.”

Research title: Routine Electronic Mother-INfant Data (REMInD) to support retention in postpartum HIV treatment and early infant diagnosis services in South Africa

The issue

Maternal loss from antiretroviral therapy (ART) and incomplete early infant diagnosis (EID) are common in high HIV-burden settings. “Data-to-care” strategies that use routinely collected data to improve the HIV continuum of care are being widely implemented in high-income countries, but this approach has not been expanded to support prevention of mother-to-child transmission (PMTCT) of HIV programmes in high-burden settings with limited resources.

The CIPHER project

Working with existing platforms in the Western Cape Department of Health, Dr Phillips will use routine electronic health data to prospectively identify and re-engage mothers and infants with gaps in routine PMTCT care in Cape Town, South Africa. This project will:

  • Use a prospective cohort (n=400) to validate gaps identified by the routine data in: i) EID; ii) maternal linkage to postpartum HIV care and regular viral load testing; and iii) linkage of infants diagnosed with HIV to treatment.
  • Implement tracing of mothers and infants with gaps in care and examine the potential impact of this approach.
  • Use an implementation science framework to explore factors influencing the implementation of the use of routine electronic data to identify gaps in care and the success of mother and infant tracing.

The goal is to use routinely collected data to streamline patient tracing and focus in real time on mothers and infants who have fallen out of care.

The impact

This study will demonstrate whether existing routine electronic data can be used to provide a valid and implementable strategy to identify and focus tracing efforts on mothers and infants in PMTCT services who truly require intervention. Working closely with local partners and the provincial Department of Health, this approach has the potential to significantly improve individual and programmatic outcomes along the PMTCT cascade.

Along with research outputs, a prototype gap report developed through this research in collaboration with the provincial department will be available for any facility in the province to use should they want to implement this approach. Positive feedback loops will be created to ensure that the quality of the routine data and the gap report are improved over time.

For more on Tamsin Phillips:

Email: [email protected]

1st International Paediatric HIV Symposium in Africa - Virtual Symposium 17-18 November 2021




Annual international workshop on “Children and Adolescents HIV-Exposed and Uninfected”

CIPHER Grant Programme
Awards up to $150,000 to early-stage investigators to address critical research gaps in paediatric and adolescent HIV in resource-limited settings.

CIPHER Growing the Leaders of Tomorrow Fellowship
Provides support to young investigators in sub-Saharan Africa on priority research topics in paediatric and adolescent HIV clinical science.

CIPHER Global Cohort Collaboration
Brings together the largest collaboration of paediatric and adolescent HIV observational cohort networks to answer key questions of global public health.

Research agendas for paediatric and adolescent HIV