PREVENTION of MOTHER to CHILD TRANSMISSION OF HIV
—-the challenges, our achievements
“The experience of a young expectant mother who was diagnosed of HIV, refused to access care and treatment, fortunately gave birth to a baby that tested HIV negative, breastfed the baby under no ARV protection, the baby became HIV positive as a result and died before the 1st birthday; readily comes to my mind whenever Prevention of Mother to Child Transmission (PMTCT) is discussed”.
But the question is; why do most pregnant women refuse to access HIV care and treatment even when these are readily accessible and available?
Studies have shown that socio-cultural factors and socio-economic are the biggest barriers to the success of PMTCT programs. Socio-cultural factors comprise stigma & discrimination, perception, religious beliefs, family disruption, gender inequality and unskilled birth delivery by Traditional Birth Attendants (TBAs).
During an interaction with an HIV positive mother who has successfully been delivered of an HIV negative baby, she identified stigma and discrimination to be the underlying reason hindering pregnant women from enrolling into the PMTCT program and those who enrolled fail to disclose their HIV status to their partners and family. She cited cases of women who were physically or verbally abused by their partners and families which in turn led to their refusal to adhere to PMTCT therapies, disruption of their marriages and drop out of the program.
“Even our culture has left women with limited rights that they can’t make important decisions regarding their own health.” She added.
Studies have also identified socio-economic factors as the second biggest barrier limiting the success of PMTCT. These factors range from poverty to illiteracy and poor awareness. According to findings from studies, the failure of HIV positive mothers to adhere to the replacement feeding therapy, choice of traditional birthing methods via TBAs and their preference of vaginal delivery to caesarean was due to lack of awareness and poor socio-economic status.
When an HIV positive expectant mother in Calabar was asked why she seldom visits the hospital for PMTCT services, she replied thus; “I live in Akampa and to pay my way down to calabar for treatment regularly is very expensive for me. I will deliver my baby with a Traditional Birth Attendant.”
Not to be overlooked is the limited male partner involvement in PMTCT activities. Many a time, HIV positive women visit the hospitals alone. PMTCT programs are considered to be a mother-baby affair and do not seem to accommodate any form of male participation hence making male partners ignorant of the gains of the program. As a result of low male partner involvement in PMTCT, the enrolled women are left to carry the burden alone of their HIV status and the new lifestyles proposed to them by the program, thus they tend to shy away from the program promoting Prevention of Mother to Child Transmission of HIV.
Despite these challenges, the ECEWS LOCATE project has put in everything to ensure best results of PMTCT program by
Supporting the provision of Integrated PMTCT services in Maternal Newborn and Child Health
Supporting the provision of Provider Initiated Testing and Counselling in ANC, Maternity and Postpartum
Providing Anti-retroviral prophylaxis to HIV-positive women
Providing Care and Support to identified HIV-positive pregnant women
Providing Antiretroviral prophylaxis, Care and Support to HIV Exposed Infants
Our program results below speaks for itself:
|Number of pregnant women with known HIV status (includes women who were tested for HIV and received their results)||45,892||73,657||161%|
|Number of pregnant women who tested positive for HIV||750||622||83%|
|Number of HIV-positive pregnant women who received antiretroviral to reduce risk of mother-to-child-transmission (MTCT) during pregnancy and delivery.||622||575||92%|
|Number of infants who had a Virology HIV test within 12 months of birth during the reporting period||750||87||14%|
PMTCT FP for MCH Awgu providing health talk to nursing and pregnant mothers
The Okwuluoka of Ohia Awgu II flagging off community PMTCT outreach in Awgu 1
Healthy Mother and Child: The PMTCT Choice