AIDS on the increase among pregnant women

Maputo- Mozambique (PANA) -- Twenty of every 100 pregnant women who attend ante-natal consultations in Mozambican health units are infected with HIV, the virus that causes the lethal disease AIDS, according to Martinho Djedje, spokesperson for the Co-ordinating Council of the Health Ministry, which has been meeting in Maputo since Monday.
Djedje said the situation was made worse because there is no systematic follow-up to assist the HIV-positive women.
"So one of the packages we want to develop is a follow-up mechanism in order to reduce the number of mother to child transmissions of HIV," said Djedje.
(This could, for instance, be done fairly cheap by administering a single dose of the drug Nevirapine to the mother and then to the new-born baby, a method that has been shown to reduce drastically mother-to-child HIV transmission.
) The general use of anti-retroviral drugs to prolong the lives of HIV sufferers in the country is still controversial, and Djedje told AIM that the matter was still under analysis.
However, there was general consensus in the Co-ordinating Council that anti-retrovirals must be introduced.
But a pre- requisite, given the complexity of treatment with these drugs, is to train staff first, so that patients can be educated on how to use the anti-retrovirals.
"These drugs must be introduced in a regulated manner," said Djedje, warning that inappropriate use would lead to resistance to the drugs "which will complicate the situation still further.
" Rui Bastos, an adviser to the Ministry on HIV/AIDS, told reporters that it is quite impossible for Mozambique to treat all HIV sufferers with anti-retrovirals, given the current cost of the drugs.
He pointed out that a year's treatment for one person costs at least 12,000 US dollars.
The Mozambican government, Bastos said, should therefore join the international movement to force down the prices of anti- retrovirals, and ensure that generic versions of these drugs are available.
The Co-ordinating Council also discussed the crisis in blood supplies in the hospitals.
There has been a decline in blood donations, worsened by the increasing rejection of blood because of HIV contamination.

31 may 2001 21:30:00

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