With renewed global commitment to end the vertical transmission of HIV, also referred to as the Virtual Elimination of Mother to Child Transmission of HIV EMTCT, the hope for such mothers is revived. Uganda like a number of other countries are recording advances in treatment, coverage, and more effective treatments for persons living with HIV.
The risk of transmitting HIV to unborn babies sends shocks to women living with the virus, forcing many of them to drop the idea of bearing children after testing positive.
For such women, motherhood comes with a lot of challenges. They require social, emotional and medical support to steer the process. This includes counseling and access to the antiretroviral drugs needed to prevent HIV infection from being passed on to their babies during pregnancy, delivery, and breastfeeding.
Medical records show that mother to child transmission contributes up to 90 percent of the infections among children.
But with renewed global commitment to end the vertical transmission of HIV, also referred to as the Virtual Elimination of Motherâ€toâ€Child Transmission of HIV (EMTCT), the hope for such mothers is revived. Uganda, like a number of other countries, are recording advances in treatment, coverage, and more effective treatments for persons living with HIV.
Dr. Christine Ondoa, the Director General of Uganda AIDS Commission told Uganda Radio Network in an interview that fewer babies are now being born with HIV. She said that that in 2013, over 15,000 babies were born infected with HIV compared to 28,000 babies in 2008.
By the end of 2014, the number had reduced to 8,000, Dr Ondoa added.
//Cue inâ€¦â€¦in that categoryâ€¦//
Cue outâ€¦â€¦especially in eMTCT. //
Testing for HIV is a key step in eliminating mother to child transmission of HIV. HIV infections in children could be reduced by 28% through increasing HIV testing capacity at health facilities and ensuring 100% testing among women seeking antenatal care. Dr Ondoa said providing antiretroviral treatment to all women who received ARV prophylaxis would give an 18% reduction of mother to child transmission.
This approach has produced results for at least four districts and one additional health center in Uganda where no case of mother to child transmission was registered over the last two years. The districts include Ngora, Maracha, Lamwo and Nebbi. Equally successful was Reach-Out Mbuya Parish Initiative, a Community Faith-Based Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) operating in the districts of Kampala and Luweero.
Dr. Betty Nsangi Kintu, the executive director Reach-Out Mbuya Parish HIV/AIDS Initiative said the success was a result of a program which linked mothers in a network that encouraged them to live positively and fight on.
//Cue in: mother to mothersâ€¦//
Cue out: taking treatment well. //
Ssekintule Josephine, the Prevention of Mother to Child (PMTCT) intervention focal person at Mbuya attributes says the effort includes continuous counseling and follow-up of the HIV positive expectant mothers.
//Cue in: some are notâ€¦//
Cue out: take the drugs. //
Reach-Out Mbuya Parish serves 3,450 clients, 2,006 of whom are on anti-retroviral therapy. The facility provides counseling, treatment, HIV testing and psychological support to children affected by HIV/AIDS
Babirye Jessica, 37, a resident of Kitintale zone 8 had never tested for HIV when her husband died in 2008. At the time, Babirye was expecting her fourth child. Because of her unknown status, the child was born with HIV.
A year later, Babirye tested positive in what she describes as a shocking and devastating moment.
Cue inâ€¦â€¦I testedâ€¦//
Cue outâ€¦â€¦started ARVs. //
Her attitude towards her status however changed in 2013 when she, together with her HIV positive boy joined Reach-Out Mbuya parish HIV/AIDS Initiative. She started living positively, resulting into another relationship from which she now has an HIV free baby.