Why Mother To Child Transmission Of HIV Still Persists – Expert

Why Mother To Child Transmission Of HIV Still Persists – Expert

By Chika Mefor-Nwachukwu

A health expert, Dr. Olugbenga Ijaodola, has revealed that even when Nigeria has made some progress in reducing Mother to Child Transmission of HIV/AIDS, (MTCT) the problem still persists due to the fact that only 24 per cent of pregnant women have access to ante natal care in Nigeria.

Ijaodola who is the Assistant Director, National Prevention of Mother-To-Child Transmission (PMTCT) Lead at the National AIDs & STIs Control Programme (NASCP), Federal Ministry of Health (FMoH), also added that 59 per cent of pregnant women in the country deliver at home, which mean the much needed HIV/AIDs preventive services will not be accessed by them.

The health expert who was speaking during the 3-day Workshop to reinvigorate and produce a work plan for members of the Journalists’ Alliance for the Prevention of Mother-to-Child Transmission of HIV/AIDs(JAPiN) organised by UNICEF in collaboration with the Child Rights Information Bureau of the Federal Ministry of information and Culture, revealed the fact that many states are yet to respond to the provision of adequate funding for HIV programmatic activities has also affected the PMTCT services.

He decried the lack of proper data capturing of pregnant women, in all sphere of government.

“It is imperative to continue to collaborate with relevant stakeholders, to be able to add shortages of data collections. Data harvesting is very important, this would help to increase diagnosis, case identification of HIV positive kids,” he said.

Also speaking, while delivering a talk on Managing Children and Adolescent Living with HIV, Focal Person, Paediatrics/Antiretroviral Therapy(ART) PMTCT, University of Calabar Teaching Hospital (UCTH), Calabar, Dr Atana Ewa, explained that Human Immunodeficiency Virus,HIV, positive mothers can only breast feed their babies for 12months so as not to pass the virus to their baby.

Ewa added that before an HIV positive mother can breastfeed her baby, she must be on antiretroviral drugs and must know her viral load.

“And no matter how much she loves breast feeding and the baby, she must stop at 12 months, exclusive breast feeding for 6months and she continues but not beyond 12 months.

“The longer you breastfeed , the more you are increasing the chance of passing the virus. Even though she is on ART, let not do it too long, nobody knows the level of which “The good news is that there are drugs and these drugs increase the rate of survival, what the drug target is to reduce the viral loads and increase the survival rates for these children. Until we have a cure, we need to encourage the people in our community,” she stated.

She said HIV antibody testing in children at 18 month old can provide definitive diagnosis for children that are with known or unknown exposure to HIV.

“You need to speak lovingly to the children and you need to access health facility that can do HIV testing, then you move from there.

“The good news is that there are drugs and these drugs increase the rate of survival , what the drug target is to reduce the viral loads and increase the survival rates for these children. Until we have a cure, we need to encourage the people in our community”, she said.