April 4, 2017

UNICEF: Mother-to-child HIV transmissions decline

THERE has been a marked reduction in mother-to-child HIV transmissions over the years from 33% in 2002 to 4,1% in 2015 in Namibia, according to a 2016 Unicef study.
This report supports the overall infection reduction narrative of a report released by the health ministry that also shows a sustained decline in new infections among adults over the past two years.

The Unicef report was compiled from data collected in 2015 from 11 592 HIV positive antenatal care (ANC) clients. Out of this number, 11 364 (98%) received antiretroviral treatment (ART) to prevent mother-to-child transmission (PMTCT).

The report describes the decline as “a substantial reduction in new infant infections, in both cases meeting and surpassing the National Strategic Framework (NSF) mid-term targets.

“However, data on young people aged between 15-24, among whom an estimated 40% or more of new infections are taking place, is not on target. The infection rate in key populations has not been systematically quantified.

“Various hot spots that include border towns and transport corridors are identified in the previous section based on antenatal zero-surveillance data,” the report states.

The report also identifies some challenges in PMTCT, one of which is low male involvement in seeking care, because men do not accompany their partners for couples' HIV testing and counselling (HTC).

Micaela Marques de Sousa, Unicef's resident representative in Namibia, said at least 90% of HIV positive ANC clients received ART in the regions, except in Erongo (85,1%) and Kunene (58,6%). It could not be established why Kunene had such a low treatment level. In 2015, about 80% (7 431/9 295) of known HIV-positive women were already on ART by their first ANC.

The health ministry's report states that PMTCT can significantly contribute to a reduction in maternal deaths (The Namibian, Windhoek)

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