Zimbabwe will introduce Option B plus of administering antiretroviral (ARV) drugs to pregnant HIV-positive women early next year, if all goes according to plan, an official has said.
REPORT BY BY DALPHINE TAGWIREYI
This approach, will see expectant mothers living with HIV and Aids being introduced to three life-long courses of therapy from the 14th week of pregnancy, through to labour, delivery and during breast-feeding.
This would help keep HIV infected mothers alive and healthy, prevent spouses from infecting each other in a discordant relationship as well as safeguarding babies from contracting the virus.
The Aids and TB Unit director in the Ministry of Health and Child Welfare, Owen Mugurungi, said the country can still improve in the fight against HIV and Aids, especially when adequate information and education is disseminated to the masses.
“Option B plus, if introduced has been proven to cut down on all infections by 95% whereas single dose cuts down by 50%, hence there has been a 100% endorsement of Option B by all stakeholders,” he said.
“There is need as well for pregnant women to be educated on the need for HIV-testing. They have to get tested, accept their status and be supported if found positive so that we can save the lives of their unborn babies”.
Mugurungi said there are major efforts to increase this as 95%of health institutions around the nation are providing mother to child transmission (PMTCT) care, as well as education.
The region has recorded a decline in the transmission of the virus from mother to child with Botswana at 2%, South Africa 4% and Zimbabwe having reduced transmission from 18% to 8,8%.
This comes in the wake of the discovery that an estimated 90% of pregnant women have contact with health institutions, though only 19% register at antenatal clinics as early as six weeks, with the majority only registering as late as five months into pregnancy.