SEVENTY thousand pregnant women tested positive to HIV this year, a Government official has revealed.
Deputy co-ordinator in the Ministry of Health and Child Care’s national PMTCT and paediatric HIV care and treatment Dr Nyikadzino Mahachi said of the figure, only 9 percent of babies were infected with the virus at birth.
He attributed this to the effectiveness of Government’s national programme on the prevention-of-mother-to-child transmission of HIV (PMTCT). “We have held numerous awareness programmes on the importance of the prevention-of-mother-to-child transmission programmes around the country so that the public is fully informed and are aware of the importance of being tested for HIV when a woman is pregnant.
“When a pregnant woman initially gets tested for HIV and is found negative and then later during the pregnancy is infected by the virus, doctors need to find out whether the baby has been infected or exposed to the virus,” said Dr Mahachi.
Dr Mahachi emphasised the importance of breastfeeding by all mothers even those who are HIV.
“If a baby is born HIV negative when the mother is infected by the virus, they would need to be tested after six weeks of being born and the mother is encouraged to breastfeed regardless of her HIV status. In Zimbabwe we have a policy where mothers are supposed to breastfeed their babies for up to two years as any other alternative is not a choice,” he said.HERALD