Saturday, February 22, 2014

Mother-child HIV infection still high

By Zephania Ubwani, The Citizen Bureau Chief

Arusha. Mother to child transmission of HIV in Arusha region remained relatively higher at 4.6 per cent despite viral infection among mothers falling down to 1.4 per cent from 1.6 per cent in 2012, it has emerged.

Statistics released Friday indicate only 898 out of 63,224 women who were tested last year were found to be HIV positive.

“This accounts for 1.4 per cent of all the infections compared to 1.6 during 2012”, said the regional medical officer Dr. Frida Mokiti said during the launching of Option+ programme aimed to eliminated mother-to-child transmission of HIV in the region.

She said during 2012, a total of 973 children born of infected mothers were tested using special equipment to test their HIV status, only 45 or 4.6 per cent were found to have been infected with the virus.

The RMO told an audience at a government health facility at Ngarenaro on the city suburbs that the government intends to reduce mother-to-child transmission of HIV to five per cent by 2015 from 20 per cent.

The programme was officially launched by President Jakaya Kikwete on December 1st, 2012 during the climax of the World Aids Day which was held at the national level at Lindi.

The ministry of Health and Social Welfare and the National Aids Control Programme (NACP) is implementing the programme with the support of the World Health Organization (WHO).

A combined Tenofovir, Lamivudine and Efavirence (TLE) is the recemmended drug which should be taken by HIV positive mothers for the rest of their lives.

According to Dr.Mokiti, at least 20 known HIV-infected mothers who are using the drugs delivered children who did were not infected with the virus.

She said the regional authorities in collaboration with the Elizabeth Glaser Peditric AIDS Foundation (EGPAF) in Tanzania have trained 88 health auxilliaries to oversee implementation of Option B+ programme in the region.

Launching the programme, the Arusha regional commissioner Magesa Stanslaus Mulongo said HIV/Aids remains a big health problem in Tanzania and that it affected pregnant mothers,infants, women and adult men alike.

He called on pregnant women and their partners to check their HIV status so that they are advised what to do when found to be HIV positive.