Elimination of Vertical Transmission of HIV
The mission of this program is to ensure that children born to HIV+ women are free of HIV.
What is vertical transmission: The transmission of HIV from a HIV-positive mother to her child during pregnancy, labor, delivery or breastfeeding is called vertical transmission. In the absence of any intervention, transmission rates range from 15% to 35%. With effective intervention, during pregnancy, labor, delivery and breastfeeding, this can be reduced to less than 5%. The intervention primarily involves antiretroviral treatment for the mother and a short course of antiretroviral drugs for the baby. It also includes measures to prevent HIV acquisition by the bay and appropriate breastfeeding practices.
How can vertical transmission be prevented?
- Educate HIV+ pregnant women about HIV and the importance of adhering to medications,
- Provide education and psycho-social counseling to the HIV+ women, and
- Provide continued education to the new mom on how to keep the new born child HIV free.
We believe that with proper education and intervention, vertical transmission of HIV can be eliminated. In our program, over the last nine years (2011-2020), 100% of children born to HIV+ moms were born HIV free. Further, we have had only one child (1 out of 43) born HIV+ since inception of this program.
As the women gain better knowledge of HIV prevention and care, they encourage others to go in for testing for HIV which is the first step toward prevention and spread of HIV. Read here stories of children born HIV free.
At this time we have 450 HIV+ children enrolled in our pediatric HIV care program. If the primary caregiver of a child enrolled is pregnant, she is automatically enrolled in our elimination of vertical transmission of HIV program. Post enrollment, the following steps are taken to ensure that the new born infant is HIV negative:
- Project Nurse counsels pregnant women on the importance of delivering an HIV free child.
- Expecting women are referred to an antenatal clinic for further counseling and care. If necessary, a member of our healthcare team accompanies the women to the clinic.
- Starting with the second trimester, the women receive regular home visits from the nurse and healthcare workers. Trained healthcare workers advise the women on the importance of adhering to medications. Closer to the delivery date, monitoring is intensified.
- Once the baby is born, we encourage the mom to get the baby tested and follow the prophylaxis protocol. We ensure that the infant is given the necessary medication and is tested for HIV two times. If the baby is HIV free, the mom is advised on how to maintain the negative status of the child. If the baby tests positive, he/she is automatically enrolled in our pediatric HIV care program.
Pregnant women enrolled in our elimination of vertical transmission of HIV program, are provided with counselling, regular home visits, and monitored for adherance to medication. Our goal continues to be zero HIV infections in children born to HIV+ women.