30% HIV+ Pregnant Women Not On ART

AT least 30% HIV positive pregnant women were not initiated on Anti-Retroviral Therapy (ART) in  Zimbabwe according to data collected in2017, with most cases being noted during the post delivery period, a top ministry of health Monitoring and Evaluation official has said.

By Michael Gwarisa in Kadoma

In an exclusive interview with HealthTimes on the side-lines of the JAPAN International Cooperation Agency (JICA) final workshop, Senior Monitoring & Evaluation Officer in the Ministry Of Health & Child Care (MoHCC) Aids & Tb Programme, Ngwarai Sithole said there was need for pregnant women to book early for their pregnancies so as to ensure proper monitoring and prevention of Mother to child Transmission (PMTCT).

“The term cascade emphasizes that a sequence of services is needed to achieve desired results e.g. HIV Testing Services, PMTCT and HIV care cascades. Looking at the PMTCT programme, It is important for pregnant women to book early for their pregnancies and get tested for HIV so that they know their HIV status.

“Getting tested helps in that those who test HIV+ will be initiated on ART early for life hence facilitating our goal of having an HIV free generation. Looking at Pregnant women, the greatest leakages in terms of HIV testing is found in Labour and delivery where in 2017 nationally 12 % of the women who were supposed to be tested were not.

“In terms of ART initiation the greatest leakage was noted in post-delivery period where 30% of the women who tested HIV positive were not initiated on ART followed by 28% in Labour and delivery,” said Sithole.

He added that most women shunned HIV testing during pregnancy owing to a plethora of factors chief among them being traditional beliefs and at times fear of stigma or violence from their spouses.

Mudzi district recorded 74% of pregnant mothers who tested positive while 64% percent were initiated on ART while 129 women arrived for delivery without knowing their status. Kwekwe recorded 483 women who arrived for deliveries without knowing their status while 93 women (73%) were initiated on ART.

However, increased cases of child marriages in areas like Mudzi were singled out as the contributing factor to high cases of pregnant mothers not testing as most of the young girls lack proper sexual reproductive health rights (SRHR) education.

Prevention of mother-to-child transmission (PMTCT) programmes provide antiretroviral treatment (ART) to HIV-positive pregnant women to stop their infants from acquiring the virus. Without treatment, the likelihood of HIV passing from mother-to-child is 15% to 45%. However, ART and other effective PMTCT interventions can reduce this risk to below 5%











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