News / Africa

WHO Has New Advice to Prevent Mother-to-Child HIV Transmission

HIV positive mothers can receive antiretroviral drugs to protect against transmitting the virus to their children
HIV positive mothers can receive antiretroviral drugs to protect against transmitting the virus to their children

Multimedia

Margaret Besheer

Although it is preventable, each year some 400,000 infants acquire HIV from their mothers. The World Health Organization, or WHO, has released new recommendations urging all HIV positive women to receive antiretroviral drugs to protect against transmitting the virus during pregnancy, delivery or breast-feeding.

Pregnant women who are HIV positive risk passing the virus that causes AIDS to their babies. But with early and effective treatment, experts say that risk is greatly diminished.

First, mothers need to know their HIV status, so they can receive treatment, if necessary, with antiretroviral drugs.

Their babies also need to be tested early. UNAIDS prevention advisor Karusa Kiragu says that should happen within six weeks of birth.

"If a child who has HIV is not put on treatment right away, half of them will be dead by the age of two,” Kiragu said. “So it is very, very important that children born of HIV mothers – even if it's not clear they are positive or negative – it's very clear that they be tested. Once the test is confirmed, it is very important the child is put on treatment right away."

Previously, HIV positive mothers were advised against breast feeding because they can pass the virus through their breast milk. But the WHO's new guidelines say it is safe for mothers to breast feed as long as they are on HIV medications.

"Yes, they breast feed until six months of age. That is the guideline today because if they don't breast feed, it is a risk that the child dies of other diseases like diarrhea or lung infection," said Ann Akesson, the medical coordinator for Doctors Without Borders in Malawi.

Mother-to-child HIV transmission has been virtually eliminated in developed countries. But in sub-Saharan Africa, it still remains a serious problem.

Kiragu says that without intervention, there is a 45 percent chance that a baby there will be infected by its mother. She attributes the high rate, in part, to the lack of adequate health services.

"So say, for example, if women need the ante-natal care, they may not be able to go for ante-natal care,” said Kiragu. “If they need the treatment to prevent infection, they may not know about it; they may not go to get it. If they go to get it, they may not find it. So ultimately the child can become infected," she said.

But with the right precautions, the baby of an HIV positive mother can be born infection free. Dr. Akesson says that in her clinic in Thyolo, one of the most rewarding parts of her work is when she can tell a mother her baby is healthy.

"Because the mothers who have taken the prophylactics, the medication, most of the children are actually not infected and that is really wonderful to give that message to the mother," Akesson added.

The experts say protecting mothers and children from HIV is a family affair. It requires everyone knowing his or her HIV status, following safe sex practices and getting early and effective treatment.`

You May Like

As US Strikes Syria, China Sees Parallels at Home

Beijing is debating how much support to give international coalition against IS militants and trying to figure out how many Chinese nationals may have joined group overseas More

CDC: Ebola Could Infect 1.4 Million by January

US health officials say if efforts to curb the outbreak are not increased, cases will soar dramatically by early next year More

Video USAID Provides $231 Million for Girls Education in 5 Countries

US Agency for International Development partners with celebrities to call attention to importance of education for girls worldwide More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
NASA’s MAVEN Probe Enters Mars Orbiti
X
September 22, 2014 9:20 PM
NASA’s newest Mars probe, called MAVEN, has successfully entered its designated orbit around the Red Planet. Scientists will use its sophisticated instruments to try to learn what happened to the atmosphere Mars had a few billion years ago. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video NASA’s MAVEN Probe Enters Mars Orbit

NASA’s newest Mars probe, called MAVEN, has successfully entered its designated orbit around the Red Planet. Scientists will use its sophisticated instruments to try to learn what happened to the atmosphere Mars had a few billion years ago. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video For West Ukraine City, Conflict Far Away Yet Near

The western Ukrainian city of Lviv prides itself on being both physically and culturally close to Western Europe. The Russian-backed separatists in the eastern part of the country are 1,200 kilometers away, and seemingly even farther away in their world view. Still, as VOA’s Al Pessin reports, the war is having an impact in Lviv.
Video

Video Saving Global Fish Stocks Starts in the Kitchen

With an estimated 90 percent of the world’s larger fish populations having already vanished, a growing number of people in the seafood industry are embracing the concept of sustainable fishing and farming practices. One American marine biologist turned restaurateur in Thailand is spreading the word among fellow chefs and customers. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Bangkok.
Video

Video Chinese Admiral Key in China’s Promotion of Sea Links

China’s President last week wrapped up landmark visits to India, Sri Lanka and Maldives, part of a broader campaign to promote a new “Maritime Silk Road” in Asia. The Chinese government’s promotion efforts rely heavily on the country’s best-known sailor, a 15th century eunuch named Zheng He. VOA's Bill Ide reports from the sailor’s hometown in Yunnan on the effort to promote China’s future by recalling its past.
Video

Video Experts Fear Ebola Outbreak ‘Beyond Our Capability to Contain’

Each day brings with it new warnings about the deadly Ebola outbreak already blamed for killing more than 2,600 people across West Africa. And while countries and international organizations like the United Nations are starting to come through on promises of help for those most affected, the unprecedented speed with which the virus has spread is raising questions about the international response. VOA's Jeff Seldin has more from Washington.
Video

Video Natural Gas Export Plan Divides Maryland Town

A U.S. power company that has been importing natural gas now wants to export it. If approved, its plant in Lusby, Maryland, would likely be the first terminal on the United States East Coast to export liquefied natural gas from American pipelines. While some residents welcome the move because it will create jobs, others oppose it, saying the expansion could be a safety and environmental hazard. VOA’s Deborah Block examines the controversy.
Video

Video Difficult Tactical Battle Ahead Against IS Militants in Syria

The U.S. president has ordered the military to intensify its fight against the Islamic State, including in Syria. But how does the military conduct air strikes in a country that is not a U.S. ally? VOA correspondent Carla Babb reports from the Pentagon.
Video

Video Iran, World Powers Seek Progress in Nuclear Talks

Iran and the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council plus Germany, known as the P5 + 1, have started a new round of talks on Iran's nuclear program. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins reports that as the negotiations take place in New York, a U.S. envoy is questioning Iran's commitment to peaceful nuclear activity.
Video

Video Migrants Caught in No-Man's Land Called Calais

The deaths of hundreds of migrants in the Mediterranean this week has only recast the spotlight on the perils of reaching Europe. And for those forunate enough to reach a place like Calais, France, only find that their problems aren't over. Lisa Bryant has the story.
Video

Video Westgate Siege Anniversary Brings Back Painful Memories

One year after it happened, the survivors of the terror attack on Nairobi's Westgate Shopping Mall still cannot shake the images of that tragic incident. For VOA, Mohammed Yusuf tells the story of victims still waiting for the answer to the question 'how could this happen?'
Video

Video Whaling Summit Votes to Uphold Ban on Japan Whale Hunt

The International Whaling Commission, meeting in Slovenia, has voted to uphold a court ruling banning Japan from hunting whales in the Antarctic Ocean. Conservationists hailed the ruling as a victory, but Tokyo says it will submit revised plans for a whale hunt in 2015. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video A Dinosaur Fit for Land and Water

Residents and tourists in Washington D.C. can now examine a life-size replica of an unusual dinosaur that lived almost a hundred million years ago in northern Africa. Scientists say studying the behemoth named Spinosaurus helps them better understand how some prehistoric animals adapted to life on land and in water. The Spinosaurus replica is on display at the National Geographic museum. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.

AppleAndroid