Mother-to-child transmission of HIV is also called perinatal transmission of HIV. It refers to the spread of HIV from a woman living with the infection to her child during pregnancy, childbirth (also called labor and delivery), or breastfeeding (through breast milk). There are many children suffering from HIV/AIDS today who were infected with the virus through this medium. Thankfully, Mother-to-child transmission of HIV can be prevented, and so much is being done by the world health body to curb these incidences.
According to one report published by News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), the World Health Organisation (WHO), says “Prevention of Mother-To-Child Transmission (PMTCT)” initiative has helped to protect 94.9 per cent infants exposed to HIV by their mothers in Nigeria. The organisation said this in a statement signed by the WHO Nigeria Officer-in-Charge (OiC), Dr Clement Peter, in Abuja.
The Statistics Are Looking Better
Dr. Peter said the body achieved this by providing technical support, evidence-based guidance and recommendations to the Federal Government to help eliminate mother to child transmission of HIV and syphilis in the country. He said that the initiative was established by the organisation, donors and partners. Dr. Peter added that the organisation had also through the initiative, built the capacity of government to offer quality HIV service delivery.
The WHO Officer-in-Charge, also said that the PMTCT initiative was established to help address growing HIV statistics of infants in the country. He said that the figure obtained from the National Agency for the Control of AIDS (NACA) indicated that Nigeria had more HIV-infected babies than any country in the world. In 2016, Nigeria accounted for 37,000 of the world’s 160,000 new cases of babies born with HIV. However, since 2017, an estimated 94.9 per cent of infants exposed to HIV by their mothers have been saved from infection through the implementation of the PMTCT intervention under the National AIDS and Sexually Transmitted Infection Control Programme (NASCP)
Across the 36 states of the federation and Federal Capital Territory, there are currently a total of 6,301 PMTCT sites. The PMTCT aims at ensuring at least 95 per cent of all HIV positive pregnant women and HIV exposed infants have access to effective antiretroviral (ARV) prophylaxis by 2021. “PMTCT also aimed at ensuring at least 80 per cent of HIV positive pregnant women had access to quality infant feeding counselling and 95 per cent HIV exposed infants had access to Early Infant Diagnosis (EID)” Dr. Peter added. He promised that the organisation would continue to support the Nigerian government to end the spread of HIV and promote person-centred HIV service delivery as a way to improve service efficiency.
The NACA director general said that there was also the need to train them in HIV testing, provide them with self-test kits and give them incentives to bring HIV positive women to primary healthcare centres for proper attention.
Get Early Treatment For HIV
HIV medicines work by preventing HIV from multiplying, which reduces the amount of HIV in the body (also called the viral load). Having less HIV in the body protects a woman’s health and reduces her risk of passing HIV to her child during pregnancy and childbirth.
Some HIV medicines pass from the pregnant woman to her unborn baby across the placenta (also called the afterbirth). This transfer of HIV medicines protects the baby from HIV infection, especially during a vaginal delivery when the baby passes through the birth canal and is exposed to any HIV in the mother’s blood or other fluids. In some situations, a woman with HIV may have a cesarean delivery (sometimes called a C-section) to reduce the risk of mother-to-child transmission of HIV during delivery.
Babies born to women with HIV receive HIV medicines for 4 to 6 weeks after birth. The HIV medicines reduce the risk of infection from any HIV that may have entered a baby’s body during childbirth.