Posts tagged: prevention of mother to child transmission

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 »

The 16th International Conference on HIV/AIDS and Sexually Transmitted Infections (ICASA) and PMTCT

Recently, World HIV/AIDS day was commemorated in Ethiopia with workshops for the people with free HIV tests. But what was even more notable was that Addis Ababa was the host for the 16th International Conference on HIV/AIDS and Sexually Transmitted Infections (ICASA). ICASA is a forum that was established with the sole intent of having Africans learning from one another and to have the issues that needed to be addressed in the fight against HIV/AIDS addressed by Africans themselves. So far, it has allowed for 15 conferences to be held all over the continent where leaders and communities have been able to keep the fight against the disease going strong.

Notably present at the conference’s inauguration, held at the Millennium Exhibition Hall, were ex-president of the United States – George W. Bush and his family, ex-president of Botswana – Festus Mogae, the Prime Minister of Ethiopia- Meles Zenawi, Dr. Michel Sidibe – UNAIDS Executive Director and other leaders of societies and religious heads as well as other stakeholders in the global fight against HIV/AIDS.


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