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Child infection forecasts high

“An estimated 47 000 HIV positive women will become pregnant in 2011, with about 14 000 new pediatric infections predicted,” Madzorera said.
“Out of the estimated 47 000 HIV infected pregnant women in 2011, about 15 000 children will become infected with HIV without any intervention.
“However, with high quality of PMTCT (Prevention of Mother to Child Transmission) interventions, this figure can be reduced to 2 350.”
At least 150 000 children below the age of 15 are living with HIV in the country, with more than 90% of them having acquired HIV from their mothers.
Madzorera said his ministry was exploring ways of increasing funding for Aids programmes next year as the number of people, including pregnant women on ARVs was increasing.
Unfortunately, children have largely been excluded from HIV vaccine research over the years because of the need to first demonstrate the vaccine’s efficacy in adults.
More than 190 vaccine trials have been completed to date, with less than 2% of the trials having included children.
The focus has been on PMTCT as a preliminary and cost effective measure.
Although Zimbabwe failed to access the Global Fund Round 10, the government recently received a timely boost through an award by London based Children’s Investment Fund (CIF) to the Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric Aids Foundation (Egpaf).
Egpaf is a global leader in the effort to eliminate pediatric HIV and Aids, working in 17 countries and at more than 5100 sites around the world.
Egpaf has been awarded the first year of a five year US$45 million grant by CIF to spearhead the use of more effective ARV regimens or combinations of drugs to reduce HIV transmission from mothers to children in Zimbabwe.
The foundation supports 815 PMTCT sites in 37 districts and has provided nearly 900 000 women with the service.
At least 70 540 adults and 13 300 children under the age of 15 died from advanced Aids related illnesses in 2009 owing to the lack of timely interventions.
Agnes Mahomva, the Egpaf country director reiterated the need to safely and effectively prevent the transmission of HIV from mothers to unborn babies.
“We place a lot of emphasis on this because the costs of PMTCT are significantly less than the costs of providing life-long care and treatment to infected children,” she said.
“The additional funding we have mobilised will allow us to expand and strengthen PMTCT service access to all the 1 500 health facilities nationwide.”
Madzorera said government wanted to see the high rate of infections on children reduced to less than 5% by stepping up the enrolment of infected children into care and treatment.
He urged men to be actively involved in the promotion of PMTCT for it to be effective.

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