Intervention to end HIV mother-to-child infections - Pregnant women to receive drugs at ANCs
The National AIDS/STI Control Programme Manager, Dr Stephen Ayisi Addo has stated that antenatal clinics () have been equipped to administer antiretroviral therapy to pregnant women who have tested positive for HIV to prevent mother-to-child transmissions of the disease, which was steadily increasing.
“This means that a pregnant woman who has HIV will not be referred to a hospital or clinic which has an antiretroviral therapy facility as was the previous practice, adding that with the current intervention, midwives will administer the drugs to pregnant women who are HIV positive,” he added.
Dr Addo explained in an interview that the measure was an intervention by the Ghana Health Service and all stakeholders to reduce cases of mother-to-child transmission as well as prevent new HIV infection.
Previously, he further explained, when HIV pregnant women were asked to go for antiretroviral therapy at a health facility different from where they attended clinics, they most often fail to do so because that health facility might be too far from where they live or they have no means of transportation so they eventually transmit the disease to the unborn child.
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He said during the HIV Sentinel Survey conducted in 2017, 19,000 new cases were recorded and out of that number, 18 per cent were children aged between 0 to 14 years.
“This clearly indicates that these children were infected through mother-to-child transmissions,” he noted.
Dr Addo said last year his outfit reached out to 67 per cent of pregnant women with HIV, adding that the remaining 33 per cent were without medication, a clear indication that they would transmit the disease to their children.
He said there were other interventions to prevent new infections and that the Ghana Health Service, Ghana AIDS and the Ghana Education Service were putting measures in place to take advantage of the Free SHS Policy to educate more young people on how to avoid contracting the HIV disease.
He said last year, HIV pregnant women between 14 to 24 years increased from 1.1 to 1.5, adding that “this is the age group who missed out when the country was campaigning seriously against the HIV/AIDS disease some years back and so they did not know the ABCs of contracting the disease.”
Dr Addo noted that if all these interventions were successfully implemented the country would be able to end the disease and deaths associated with it by 2030.
“Meanwhile the country has to achieve the aim set by the World Health Organisation (WHO) and UNAID to achieve the 90/90 target by 2020. The 90/90 target means that 90 per cent of all persons living with HIV must know their status. At least 90 per cent of that number should be put on treatment and then the 90 per cent on treatment must also be on viral suppression when they are tested after some time he said.
“Viral suppression is the situation where the viral of an HIV positive person would be undetected when he or she undergoes a test after that person had been on the medication for some time,” he added.
Dr Addo, therefore, called on the media to assist in all the interventions by allocating airtime to educate the general public, writing news stories as well as features to create awareness among young people on the need to abstain, be faithful to their partners or use a condom anytime they had sex.