17 August 2010
More than 90 percent of babies born to HIV-positive mothers in public health facilities in Gauteng between April and June 2010 were saved from the virus, says the provincial Health and Social Development Department.
The department said that 91 percent of babies whose mothers were on the government’s prevention of mother-to-child transmission programme were tested six weeks after birth and found to be HIV-negative.
“With the new ARV guidelines that were implemented in all public health facilities in Gauteng offering ante-natal care services since April this year, the province hopes to further reduce the mother-to-child transmission rate,” the department said in a statement this week.
According to the new guidelines announced by President Jacob Zuma on World Aids Day in December, antiretroviral prophylaxis is given at 14 weeks of pregnancy for those women who have a CD4 count above 350, while those with a CD4 count of 350 and below are eligible for treatment.
In an effort to eliminate the transmission of HIV from mother to child, Gauteng province has called on all pregnant women to go for ante-natal visits as soon as they suspect that they are pregnant so they can do all the necessary tests on time and be put on treatment if necessary.
“The department’s aim is that no child should be born HIV-positive in Gauteng by the end of this financial year, and in order to achieve this, we urge mothers who suspect that they might be pregnant to present themselves early at ante-natal clinics and take the HIV test,” said Gauteng Health and Social Development MEC Qedani Mahlangu.
Meanwhile, Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi held a meeting with Business Unity South Africa on Monday, where he called on business to work with the government to help strengthen its HIV Counselling and Testing campaign by providing funds for equipment and treatment.