Category: Mother-to-Child Transmission (MTCT)

The Fight Against HIV/AIDS and MTCT: A Decade On

When the United Nations General Assembly – Special Session (UNGASS) met in 2001 in New York, a target was set to reduce the number of HIV-infected infants by 50% by the year 2010. To achieve this plan, it was calculated that 80% of HIV pregnant women or mothers would have to be enrolled under a prevention of mother-to-child transmission (PMTCT) program.

To see what an uphill task it was to undertake, we need to have a look at some figures:

  • Of the global HIV positive population, a little over 50% of them are women. At the end of 2010, there were an estimated 34 million people living with HIV, and that same year saw 2.7 million people newly infected with the disease.

  • While the HIV epidemic had peaked somewhere in between the years 1996 and 1997, in Eastern Europe and Central Asia the number of people living with HIV rose by a staggering 250% from 2001 to 2010. The hardest hit countries were the Russian Federation and Ukraine which accounted for almost 90% of the region’s epidemic.
  • Each day, an estimated 1000 children under the age of 15 are infected by the disease. And of these, more than 90% of them are infected due to mother-to-child transmission (MTCT) of HIV.

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The Silent Status of HIV Positive Women in the Doctor’s Office

Several recent studies have indicated many HIV positive women never discuss issues concerning their HIV status. More specifically, these women rarely discuss the options and practices affiliated with HIV management during pregnancy.  This often occurs because clinicians assume patient inquiries are covered by other professionals or they are not fully comfortable discussing these matters with women.

Certain facts should be noted on women who are found positive with HIV; not only do they suffer higher rates of depression than men who are HIV positive, but the infection as well as the antiretroviral therapy affect women differently than their gender counterparts. To add, rates of mother-to-child transmission are now less than two percent in the US when using medication coupled with caesarean sections and avoidance of breastfeeding. More women may consider pregnancy and childbirth with such encouraging statistics.

One of the few studies that have analyzed the gender specific health concerns of HIV positive women surveyed 700 from the US in order to better understand the lack of communication and discussion between these women and their personal clinicians. The conclusions from the survey shed light on this particular subject matter: Read More

Prevention of Mother-to-Child Transmission (PMTCT) and the Contraceptive Pill

Prevention of mother-to-child transmission (PMTCT) of HIV/AIDS is the process of making sure that a child born to an HIV positive mother isn’t born with the disease too. And if most people in Sub-Saharan Africa were to be asked how it can be prevented, they would more likely than not answer that prevention is better than the cure – the mother should try to not get pregnant in the first place. While there are many moral issues that could be brought against this idea, some mothers would agree that they too thought so and were using contraceptives to prevent the pregnancy from happening.

And yet, according to a study, it has been found that taking contraceptive pills has actually been the linked to an increase risk of HIV infection among women of reproductive age1. In Africa, where HIV/AIDS is the most prevalent, population control programs have been in place for over three decades in which time women were encouraged to use oral contraceptive pills and hormonal injection contraceptives like Depo-Provera. Research has shown that this has been found to increase not only a woman’s risk of transmitting the disease, but also that of being infected. This has come as quite a shock to the estimated 140 million users of hormonal contraceptives worldwide. Read More

Mother-to-Child Transmission of HIV: Development of Infant Drug Resistance

In September of 2000, the General Assembly of the United Nations held the Millennium Summit to adopt an “Earth Charter” and a “Declaration” that would lead to global governance.  The summit focused on the role of the United Nations in the 21st century; in particular, the UN’s role in pulling over one billion people out of extreme poverty, halting the pandemic of HIV/AIDS and protecting the global environment.  With 150 heads of state in attendance, it was the largest gathering of world leaders in history as of 2000; the outcome of this summit was eight international development objectives known as the UN Millennium Goals.  Two of these goals expressed an intention by the year 2015 to reverse the spread of HIV/AIDS1 and to reduce by 66% the infant mortality rate 2.

Using a class of pharmaceutical drugs known as anti-retrovirals (ARVs), great strides have been made toward achieving these UN Millennium Goals.  However, each year approximately 300,000 infants still contract HIV/AIDS 3.  Almost all of these HIV+ infants are infected through mother-to-child transmission, and in the absence of treatment,  half will die before the age of two.  Using ARV therapy, the total rate of mother-to-child transmission (MTCT) can be reduced to between two and five percent (without treatment, rates are between 20-45%) 4.   Read More

Preventing Mother-to-Child HIV Transmission (PMTCT): A Common Fight

In 2009 it was estimated that there were 2.5 million children living with HIV/AIDS [1]. This heartbreaking number is 2.5 million more than it should be. Sadly, it is anyone’s guess how many of these infections could have been averted by the prevention of mother-to-child transmission (PMTCT) of HIV.

PMTCT
PMTCT is the acronym used to describe the efforts and protocols used in the prevention of mother-to-child transmission of HIV. Although PMTCT may at first seem a bit complicated, there are some steps like educating mothers-to-be, testing them for HIV, informing them of breast milk substitutes, following safer delivery practices and giving them access to anti-retroviral drugs and treatments. These measures can substantially cut down rates of mother-to-child transmission (MTCT) of HIV.

PMTCT has been recognized as one of the best ways to combat HIV/AIDS, especially in the fight for the lives of children. And with that recognition, the efforts to implement PMTCT have been stepped up globally. For example, in 2005 the percentage of HIV infected women who had access to treatment in developing countries was only 15%. This percentage grew to 23% in just one year, and by 2009 it was 53% [2]. Read More

Winning The Fight Against Mother-to-Child HIV Transmission

Countries all over Sub-Saharan Africa have built a strong foundation in the fight against HIV

Not so long ago, HIV/AIDS was presumed to be a disease that could never be stopped. It hit so hard and so fast that the first crucial moments, when much could have been done, were not taken advantage of. By the time it was recognized as an pandemic too many people had already been infected. And then, the next generation started feeling the effects too, when children became infected via mother-to-child-transmission (MTCT). The hardest hit countries were almost all here in Sub-Saharan Africa, where it was thought that there was absolutely no hope of winning the fight against HIV/AIDS. Read More

Mother-to-child Transmission of HIV: The Way Forward

I live in Ethiopia. Ever since HIV/AIDS came out of nowhere and took center stage in the early 80’s, it  has managed to spread to every nook and cranny of the world and claim the lives of millions of mothers and children around us. In a country where we used to bury someone close almost every week, we have seen a big change: countries with the highest infection and mortality rates, like Ethiopia, have been able to slow down the HIV trend. Yet, sadly, there are still other countries in Sub-Saharan Africa where more needs to be done: in South Africa, for example, the infection rate of HIV among pregnant women has been reported to be as high as 29%, this has not changed much in many years1. Read More

Mother-To-Child Transmission: The Preventable Facet of HIV


Less than half of pregnant women in Sub-Saharan Africa have access to antiretroviral treatment

Mother-to-child transmission (MTCT) of HIV occurs when an HIV-positive mother infects her child during pregnancy, labor and delivery, or through breastfeeding. In 2008, a Global Summary of the AIDS Epidemic conducted by UNAIDS showed that 2.1 million children under 15 years of age were living with HIV. In this report, one of the nine goals set out for the 2009-2011 period Read More

PMTCT: Preventing Mother-to-Child Transmission of HIV

PMTCT is the acronym used to describe efforts and protocols to prevent mother-to-child HIV transmission

Over the past five years, there has been a growing awareness of mother-to-child transmission of HIV due to a large and growing number of children in Africa living with HIV.  MTCT is the acronym used to describe the process of transmission of the HIV virus from infected mother to her child during pregnancy, delivery, or through breastfeeding.  PMTCT, or preventing mother-to-child transmission, is the acronym used to describe efforts and protocols to prevent MTCT.

PMTCT measures include education, support for women, avoidance of unwanted pregnancies, safe delivery practices (caesareans), antiretroviral therapy and the use of replacement breast milk formulas.  These are measures that have been proven in the Developed World to be effective at Read More

A Vitalwave Summary

Vitalwave™ is a medical device designed to disinfect the birthing canal at the time of delivery to prevent or to reduce the rate of HIV and STI (gonorrhea, GBS, HPV, chlamydia, syphilis) transmission from mothers to their infants (MTCTP). Vitalwave™ disinfection is a low cost, easy-to-administer procedure designed for use in developing countries where Mother-to-Child HIV & STI transmission is high. More than 90% of children with HIV were infected by their mothers. Of the 17.7 million women living with HIV around the world, 74% do not seek treatment & education to prevent HIV transmission to their unborn child. This sad reality results in 1,600 children becoming infected with HIV every day, or one child every minute1. Vitalwave™ is designed to bypass the stigma associated with AIDS and reliance on patient compliance by providing safe and instant disinfection at the time of delivery. Given the limited time and effort involved with this treatment, Vitalwave™ is ideal for universal deployment (for use with all deliveries) in the Third World.

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