Health News of 2014-03-16

Ghana moving towards zero HIV negative babies

The percentage of HIV positive babies born in Ghana now stands at nine (9) per cent down from 30 per cent with a further push towards five (5) per cent.

This is due to the Prevention-Of-Mother-To-Child Transmission (PMTCT) regimen involving pregnant women.

Dr. Joseph Amuzu, Director for Policy and Planning, Ghana AIDS Commission (GAC) spoke about the trend when he led discussions at a session in Ho to disseminate the revised national policies on HIV and AIDS.

The revised policies are the National HIV and AIDS, STI Policy, the National HIV and AIDS Workplace Policy and the newly developed National Community Home-Based Care Policy and Guidelines.

He was optimistic that Ghana could reach a zero negative HIV babies status within a short time if the trend continued.

Dr. Amuzu said Ghana would, however, have to find ways of funding the PMTCT strategy when the Global Fund cases funding the programme in 2015 elapsed.

He said, “couples testing” for HIV should be encouraged after “vigorous counseling,” but each of them should be allowed to decide whether his or her status should be communicated to the other.

He said when one of the couples test negative and the other positive, they could still have babies that would turn out to be HIV negative when the mother is taken through the PMTCT regimen.

The PMTCT involves routine testing for HIV of pregnant women who attend ante-natal clinic.

Where a pregnant woman tests positive, she was linked to caregivers from 14 weeks of pregnancy.

After delivery, she would be on medication for one year, and their babies tested for HIV after six weeks.

The baby is breastfed for one year, and retested, and the mother continued with Family Planning to prevent unintended pregnancy.

Source: GNA
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