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Campaign to curb HIV mother-to-child transmission bears fruits in Kwale

In sub-Saharan Africa, about 75% of HEIs have delayed access to EID services resulting to substantial mortality.

NAIROBI, Kenya, Dec 26th70 HIV Exposed Infants (HEIs) who had been put on treatment and their mothers on a mentorship program, in Kwale County have graduated with most of them being declared free from the virus.

The reported success is a result of a mentorship program established in 2016 to provide treatment to HIV positive expectant mothers aged between 24-35 years to Prevent Mother-To-Child Transmission of the virus (PMTCT).

“Since the inception of the program by the county government in partnership with UNICEF, more than 597 HIV exposed infants have turned out to be negative,” said Kwale’s County First Lady, Christine Mvurya.

Agostine Noti, a mother of three and living with the virus praised the program and challenged those living with the virus to make use of services available in county hospital facilities to prevent Mother-To-Child Transmission.

“I have lived with the virus for many years, but nonetheless I have been able to enjoy and live life fully as well as take care of my family thanks to the program. I am glad to see my last child graduate from this program with a clean bill of health,” she said.

The National AIDS Control Council 2018 report shows that despite proven and effective HIV interventions, many HEI’s fail to benefit due to lack of follow-ups, this leads to delays or no initiation of interventions, thereby contributing to significant child mortality.

“Without timely access to Anti-Retroviral Therapy (ART) 20% of HIV positive infants will die before 6 months, 35–40% will die before 1 year, and over 50% will die by 2 years. Early diagnosis of HIV is hence fundamental in early identification of HIV-positive infants and subsequent ART initiation,” noted Kwale’s First Lady.

The report also shows that 4.8 percent of Kenyans are HIV positive. This translates to about 1.34 million Kenyans who are living with HIV and Kwale has not been spared either.

In sub-Saharan Africa, about 75% of HEIs have delayed access to EID services resulting to substantial mortality.

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With delayed access to EID, current progress towards zero new HIV infections and starting 90% or more HIV-positive infants on ART might be reversed.

EID thus facilitates timely access to ART and in so doing, it optimize viral load suppression, reduce HIV related morbidity and mortality, and improve the overall quality of life of HIV-positive children.

Evidence indicates that timely initiation of ART reduces the risk of infant mortality by 76% within the first 3 months of life and the progression to AIDS, an advanced stage of HIV infection, by three quarters.


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