Posts tagged: 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 »

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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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 »

Pregnant Women Reluctant to Be Tested For HIV/AIDS

Knowing beforehand whether or not a pregnant women is infected with HIV/AIDS is a key factor in the prevention of mother-to-child transmission (PMTCT) of the disease. Nothing can be sadder than watching children slowly and painfully wither away. It becomes heartbreakingly painful when taking into consideration the fact that with the help of HIV/AIDS testing, this needn’t be the case. However, an alarming number of pregnant women in Africa have been found to be reluctant to take an HIV/AIDS test1.

It has been known for quite some time now that pregnant women that are tested for HIV can be treated with a regimen that prevents mother-to-child transmission (MTCT). The latest guidelines from the World Health Organization (WHO) suggest that should a pregnant mother be diagnosed with HIV, she should start her PMTCT regimen as early as 14 weeks into her pregnancy and follow it strictly until the birth of her child. If these guidelines are strictly adhered to the chances of a baby being born infected are very low.

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Human Trafficking and HIV/AIDS – Double Jeopardy

Human trafficking is defined as the illegal transportation of people from one country to another. The victims are, more often than not, young girls or women who have either been forcefully coerced or deceived by promises of a better life and/or income. While human trafficking is a global phenomenon, it is more widespread in the developing countries of Africa and Asia.

As if being the victim of human trafficking is not enough hell for the victims, they are finding themselves pushed into its furthest corner by simultaneously being exposed to the scourge of HIV/AIDS. This is because the harsh reality that awaits the women once they reach their destinations (or are abandoned midway there) is one that is filled with the savagery of sexual harassment, rape and being forced into either working long hours for little to no pay, or worse: slaving away in the commercial sex industry.

Many of the trafficked women end up in refugee camps. What should be a place of sanctuary usually opens the door to another level of misery. If they are not raped by men in or outside the camp, they fall victim to the same authorities that are supposed to protect them. While it is quite obvious that the exposure to HIV/AIDS is very high once they have reached their, albeit unintended destinations, it is not limited to just that one ordeal. Read more »

Our Kids Are Our Future – Let’s Give Them A Fighting Chance

In this world of wars and economic crisis it is easy to think that we have it really bad. We might think that our woes are the worst; and we might even think that just because we’ve lost our jobs the world is coming crashing down on us. Those of us with offspring to nourish and nurture will think that we are failed parents and go on to paint a gloomy future for our children.

Yes, that is not a good thing for our children to have to live through. And yes, no parent would want to live a life where his or her child had to suffer for lack of a square meal, a roof overhead or an education to get ahead in life. A parent faced with these obstacles in life, caused by matters he or she cannot control, would find it hard to excuse him- or herself. And yet, there is one big obstacle that is put in children’s lives before they are even born, giving them an unfair start to life: they are continuing to be infected with HIV/AIDS, usually transmitted from their mothers.

The deadliest weapon HIV/AIDS has  Read more »

Vitalwave™ – An Overview

Vitalwave™ is the application of photodisinfection to the birth canal. It is a therapy currently under development by OrGenX Biopharma Corporation and Ondine Biomedical Inc. for the prevention of mother-to-child transmission (PMTCT) of HIV. More than 90% of HIV infections in children are caused by mother-to-child transmission. This is the equivalent of 1,600 children becoming infected with HIV every day, or one child every minute1, affecting 1 out of every 4 babies born. Vitalwave™ is intended to bypass the stigma associated with AIDS, and designed to be safe, instantly effective and inexpensive to allow for universal deployment in resource-poor counties.

It is estimated that 13-38% of all pregnant women in South Africa are HIV positive1. Current estimates indicate that 90% of HIV-positive women in resource-poor settings do not have access to antiretroviral (ARV) medication on a regular basis and often reject treatment due to fear of the stigma-related threats of violence and abandonment. In the absence of ARV treatment, a pregnant woman has a 14-42% chance of passing HIV on to their child during labour and delivery2. A higher HIV vaginal viral load in the mother is associated with an increased risk of transmission to their unborn child. Vitalwave™ is currently being designed to safely and immediately reduce the HIV vaginal viral load to low levels.

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International AIDS Society (IAS) Conference – Day 4

As I wrote on Monday, the excitement at the 2011 ISA conference are the conversation and reports about HIV prevention and the potential for a cure.  The day started with a presentation from the director of the US National Institute on Drug Abuse.  Injection drug use is the most commonly recognized drug use related vector for HIV transmission.  However, non-injecting drug use also increases the likelihood of HIV transmission. Data shows that the prevalence of HIV is as high in non-injecting drug users as it is in injecting drug users worldwide.  The reason is due to the physiological changes in the brain due to drug use and addiction.  Stimulation of the dopamine receptors in the brain (the reward center that promotes sexual arousal) together with inhibition in parts of the frontal lobe (the area of the brain we use to control our impulsive behaviors) are the result of drug use and abuse.  This combinatorial effect produces a propensity for injection and non-injection drug users to engage in high HIV risk sexual behavior.  In the context of a HIV prevention plan, this means we need to consider adequate attention and treatment for drug users in order to contain transmission and protect the general population.

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