More Gauteng babies born HIV negative

Pretoria – More than 90 percent of babies born to HIV positive mothers in Gauteng public health facilities between April and June 2010 were saved from the virus, says provincial Health and Social Development Department.

The department said that 91 percent of babies whose mothers were on Prevention of Mother to Child Transmission (PMTCT) were tested six weeks after birth and tested HIV negative.

“With the new ARV guidelines that were implemented in all public health facilities in Gauteng offering anti natal care services since April this year, the province hopes to further reduce the mother to child transmission rate,” the department said.

According to the new guidelines announced by President Jacob Zuma during last year’s World AIDS Day, 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, the province has called on all pregnant women to go for anti-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 anti-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 government to help strengthen the HIV Counselling and Testing campaign by providing funds for equipment and treatment.

Source – BuaNews