Print this page    •   Back to Web version of article

International News
AIDS Treatment in South Africa Sends Baby Infections Plunging

June 1, 2012

A South African health program providing free antiretrovirals (ARVs) to expectant mothers to prevent perinatal HIV transmission has saved upwards of 70,000 children annually, officials report.

Avi Violari, a pediatrician at Soweto's Chris Hani Baragwanath hospital, said pregnant women are tested at antenatal clinics, and if they are HIV-positive, "We do a lot of intensive counseling ... and we offer to give treatment during pregnancy."

Through the "Prevention of Mother-to-Child-Transmission" (PMTCT) program, HIV-positive mothers receive free ARVs during pregnancy, after birth, and sometimes during labor. Newborns also receive a small ARV dose to help stave off infection.

The national government for years resisted giving ARVs to HIV-positive expectant women, but in 2002 the Constitutional Court ordered their free distribution to mothers-to-be with the virus. The program has since expanded beyond pregnant women to serve 1.3 million people, becoming the largest effort of its kind in the world. It has greatly benefitted this developing nation, where half of the 50 million residents live on less than US $2 per day, and nearly 6 million people have HIV/AIDS.

Unfortunately, children sometimes develop resistance to ARVs their mothers received while pregnant, and they risk HIV exposure via breastfeeding. Since 2010, the country has advocated that mothers exclusively breastfeed initially, as mother's milk is thought to better protect against diseases, said Theresa Rossouw, South Africa's chief HIV doctor.

PMTCT's success has been lauded internationally. "PMTCT program is a flagship of the South African government," said Dr. Thapelo Maotoe of USAID, which has donated upwards of $3.3 billion to South African HIV/AIDS treatment since 2004.

Back to other news for June 2012

Excerpted from:
Agence France Presse
05.31.2012




This article was provided by CDC National Prevention Information Network. It is a part of the publication CDC HIV/Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update. You can find this article online by typing this address into your Web browser:
http://www.thebody.com/content/67368/aids-treatment-in-south-africa-sends-baby-infectio.html

General Disclaimer: TheBody.com is designed for educational purposes only and is not engaged in rendering medical advice or professional services. The information provided through TheBody.com should not be used for diagnosing or treating a health problem or a disease. It is not a substitute for professional care. If you have or suspect you may have a health problem, consult your health care provider.