Category: Preventing Mother-to-Child Transmission (PMTCT)

Preventing Mother to Child Transmission Needs Mercy and Compassion

Today, HIV/AIDS has become a disease that has knocked on the doors of almost every country in the world. Populations have had traumatic experiences that will be hard to forget any time soon. People have died living loved ones uncared for or to be the burdens of other family members. Young ones have died leaving behind elderly parents that have no one to care for them. If these stories are to stop we need to make sure that the next generation is saved. And for now, the surest way to go about it is by implementing PMTCT (Prevention of mother-to-child transmission) programs and using them as effectively as possible.

If that isn’t done then we will be facing a crisis where the infected children of tomorrow will have to face a horrible future. Even today, as the world has risen to fight against the disease, there are challenges in the form of ignorance, sheer hatred and weak mentality against the people living with HIV/AIDS that will make PMTCT of no use at all.

The simplest and most common effect of this is the stigmatization and discrimination that is being meted out to these poor souls in almost every part of the world. But, these two pale in comparison to the horror stories that are being told about the hell that children are being put through because they are HIV positive. While although not an excuse, one can understand harm coming to them from outside the home, these children are increasingly facing cruelty from their own families; the only people that they could trust and rely on for love and protection. Read More

Widow Cleansing and Widow Inheritance – Harmful Cultural Practices Stopping PMTCT

Today, the world is well aware of the facts and figures that surround the HIV/AIDS epidemic. While the level of realization might vary from society to society, it would be very hard to find any village that does not have the most rudimentary knowledge about the disease. There is a global mobilization against it and to some extent there are major victories to date. But, one aspect of the disease is only recently getting the attention it requires: the prevention of mother-to-child transmission (PMTCT) of HIV/AIDS, and specifically, the relation it has with the harmful cultural or traditional practices that are prevalent in almost all of the countries that are hardest-hit by the disease.

If we were to take a look at the countries that had, or still have, the highest infection rates, it would be abundantly clear that there is a prevalence of harmful traditions that are bestowed upon the girls and women of these countries. It would also be clear that there is a relationship between these traditions and the eventual infection of children born to HIV-positive women.

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Gauging the Effectiveness of Prevention of Mother-to-Child Transmission (PMTCT)

Over the years, especially in the past ten or so, the world has been able to gain a foothold in the fight against mother-to-child transmission (MTCT) of HIV/AIDS. In some countries, the ones worst hit by the epidemic, results have shown that the gloomy clouds that were once prevalent have begun to retreat as the disease is slowly but surely being defeated.

One way that was used to combat this disease was by making sure that children born to an HIV positive mother were not infected too. By implementing prevention of mother-to-child transmission (PMTCT) methods, the rates of MTCT can be reduced. This comes from the results of many trials that have been done in various countries all over the world.

But, the question may be asked as to whether it really is true that the PMTCT regimen is as effective as it said to be. Well, one way that the effectiveness of the whole PMTCT campaign can be measured is by using a measuring method known as ‘PMTCT Cascade’1. The main principle behind this method is measuring the number of HIV positive mother and child pairs in a population that receives PMTCT intervention.  The data from all the facilities that provide the PMTCT services is collected and analyzed. The data is then divided into 7 areas. Read More

Men: A New Force in the Fight Against Mother-to-Child Transmission of HIV

It might sound a little out of sync, but the active participation of men in the prevention of mother-to-child transmission of HIV/AIDS has been found to produce amazing results. A study done in Kenya has shown that if men are involved in the reproductive health with their partners, vertical transmission of HIV and the infant mortality that follows can be reduced by up to 40%1. How this is so can only be understood by considering the fact that in Africa, the male partner is considered to be the head of the family and has absolute say on everything that concerns his family, including matters of sexual reproduction.

Many men feel that as long as they are married having to get tested for HIV is either totally useless, or an insult towards their spouses, and hence themselves, because it implies that the woman has loose morals. They therefore hesitate, if not outright refuse, to entertain any questions of their wives going in to have an HIV test. The importance of this decision occurs when we consider the fact that in order for a mother to prevent the transmission of the disease to her child, she needs to be diagnosed early enough to start the prevention of mother-to-child transmission (PMTCT) regimen. 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

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