Posts tagged: Preventing Mother-to-Child Transmission

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 »

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 »

Campaign (RED) Fights HIV/AIDS

Founded in 2006 by U2 frontman Bono, the Red Campaign combats the effects of HIV AIDS in Africa by channeling the energy and attention of today’s eager consumers towards a priceless cause. The Red Campaign simply utilizes the financial expenditure of consumers in order to help people affected by HIV AIDS.  (RED) produces (PRODUCT) red items with influential partners including the likes of American Express, Apple, Bugaboo, Converse, Dell, Emporio Armani, Gap, Hallmark, Nike, Penfolds, Penguin, and Starbucks .  Generally, these items pass on up to 50 percent of their profits to the Global Fund in order to invest in HIV AIDS support programs [I].

By examining the Gap, the internal processes of Campaign RED can be broken down into three easy to understand steps [II]:
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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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International AIDS Society (IAS) Conference – Day 3

During today’s plenary session we heard HIV experts from Australia, the Ivory Coast and Belgium.  Susan Kippax (Australia) talked about the social barriers to effective HIV prevention.  She argued that any prevention plan will require people to change their social practices.  Additionally, she presented the case that people’s behavior cannot be separated from their social, cultural and political structure and the biomedical pieces of prevention planning cannot be separated from the non-biomedical ones.  As such, Kippax voiced the requirement that social scientists be part of the discussion when creating HIV prevention plans and policy. Read more »

International AIDS Society (IAS) Conference – Day 2

The venue for the 2011 International AIDS Society Conference is Rome’s music auditorium.  There are four main music halls being used simultaneously to host main sessions.  Delegates sit in acoustically optimized rooms as though they were attending a symphony or ballet, but the music and dancing on the stages is being carried out by the international leaders in HIV/AIDS research and clinical practice.  After the Day 1 festivities, the conference is in full swing and the venue is abuzz with science.

The plenary sessions each day set the stage for the future conference sessions.  Monday’s plenary session featured three presentations; 1) looking at the current state of vaccine development, 2) managing treatment of HIV/AIDS in 2011 and 3) using combination therapies for prevention. Read more »

International AIDS Society (IAS) Conference – Day 1

The 6th International AIDS Society (IAS) Conference on HIV Pathogenesis, Treatment and Prevention officially began in Rome at 7:30 PM on Sunday July 17th, 2011 although there were a number of satellite meetings starting around noon.  I spent the afternoon in a special session organized by the World Health Organization and the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.  The Session was entitled Elimination of Mother to Child Transmission of HIV: Measuring the Effectiveness of National PMTCT Programs.  There is a great deal of emphasis in the HIV research and clinical community on women and children.  Two years ago at the IAS conference in Cape Town there was an emphasis on scaling up prevention of mother to child transmission (PMTCT) programs and antenatal care facilities; two years later we want to evaluate their effectiveness.  The session started with presentations from both the WHO and the CDC with draft protocols outlining how to conduct an effective evaluation.  In addition to providing guidelines on how to determine infant exposure and/or infection, the discussions included the ethical challenges of testing orphans and infants brought to a clinic by a sibling or community member.  Who provides consent? And, to whom is the result reported.

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