AIDS council encourages voluntary HIV tests

Cape Town- South Africa (PANA) -- A meeting of the Gauteng AIDS Council on Thursday encouraged pregnant women to go for voluntary HIV-testing as a way of preventing the possible transmission of the lethal virus to the unborn babies.
The call was made at a meeting held at the Kalafong Hospital in Atteridgeville, Pretoria to discuss HIV/AIDS programmes targeted at women and youths.
Kalafong and Pretoria West Hospitals recently became the second research site on the prevention of mother-to-child- transmission (MTCT) to be launched in Gauteng this year as part of the national programme to curb the further spread of the incurable disease.
Given that relatively low percentages of pregnant women at the new site had opted for voluntary testing, the Council resolved to encourage women to do so.
GCA clarified, however, that some babies born to women involved in the MTCT prevention programme could still be HIV- positive.
The Council resolved to strengthen the campaign to promote voluntary counselling and testing and also called on members of the public to make use of the care services offered by the government at clinics and hospitals as well as home-based care, which is becoming increasingly important.
The GAC, which is headed by Gauteng Premier Mbhazima Shilowa, was formed just over a year ago to help mobilise all sectors of society in the fight against HIV/AIDS and to strengthen the partnership against AIDS in action in the province.
The body includes representatives of civil society sectors including youth, women, hostel dwellers, faith communities, people with Aids, traditional healers, sport, labour, civics, business, people with disabilities, musicians and cultural workers organisations.
After Thursday's meeting, the Premier, local health minister Gwen Ramakgopa and other Council members visited Kalafong's maternity block and ante-natal clinic where the MTCT interventions are implemented.
They also visited the Motau Child Care Centre for babies who are abandoned or living with HIV/AIDS and a home-based care project in Atteridgeville.
The GCA endorsed the programme of the Gauteng Women in Partnership against AIDS, a forum launched recently to bring together women from different sectors.
Health personnel involved in the Kalafong/Pretoria West MTCT programme briefed the council on their experiences since implementation began.
The programme at all the sites involves not just the administration of the drug, Navirapine but also a range of other aspects such as voluntary testing, counselling, education and support.
Adaptation of midwifery practices and follow-up work with the mother and child for up to two years after the birth are its other aspects.
People involved in home-based care projects briefed GAC members on their work in communities with people living with HIV or AIDS.
The Council discussed future anti-AIDS plans in Gauteng, including activities focussing on women and HIV/AIDS during Women's Month in August, the mobilisation of partnerships with government and different sectors in October and activities leading up to World AIDS Day on 1 December 2001.

13 july 2001 10:08:00

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