We can attain an HIV-free generation in Uganda
Publish Date: Mar 31, 2011
Newvision Archive
  • mail
  • img

By Sanyu Nkiinzi

A few months ago a long-time friend of mine had her first baby. Although I was genuinely happy for her, one thought continued to cross my mind…was her baby born healthy? My friend and her partner have been living with HIV for the past seven and nine years respectively.

They met each other in a Post Test Club (a club for those who have already tested positive for HIV) four years back and have been together ever since.

Recently, we received the baby’s blood results: she was HIV negative. I breathed a sigh of relief and celebrated the good news with a glass of red wine.

My girlfriend has come a long way. During her pregnancy she was linked to HIV treatment services and received the full course of anti-retrovirals (ARVs) for Prevention of Mother-to-Child Transmission of HIV (PMTCT).

Health workers in the antenatal care clinic followed her progress closely and continued to monitor her treatment even after the baby was born. Simultaneously, her exposed infant was put on ARVs and provided with routine clinical care.

My friend was advised to breastfeed exclusively for six months before introducing complimentary foods while she continued to breastfeed for up to a year.

Last week while in Ibanda district at a health facility supported by the Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation, I visited two families — one an HIV-positive couple whose 11-month old baby is free from HIV, the second a 29-year old mother of four who discovered that she was HIV-positive while pregnant with her third child. She, too, was enrolled into the ART clinic and today, both her third and fourth born children are HIV negative.

Like my girlfriend, both families attribute their babies’ negative status on the availability of drugs, counselling, and testing received through antenatal care.

Unfortunately, in Uganda, mother-to-child transmission of HIV contributes 22% of 100,000 new HIV infections annually.

Without treatment, almost half of these children will die before their second birthday.

Sadly, according to the UNAIDS 2010 report, Uganda is one of the few countries where ARV coverage in children is less than that of adults.

In a bid to eliminate pediatric AIDS, the Ministry of Health (MOH) is rolling out the revised national PMTCT guidelines, based on World Health Organization recommendations, which entails taking a multi-drug regimen of ARVs during pregnancy, labor and through breast feeding.

As part of the rollout of the new national guidelines, the MOH, together with its implementing partners, are retraining health workers in the new strategies for providing PMTCT services.

If Uganda attained full coverage and utilisation of PMTCT services, it would prevent about 20,000 babies from being born infected with HIV each year. This translates to approximately 2,100 HIV-free babies every month.

My girlfriend and the folks in Ibanda are living proof that we have the medicine and the science to eliminate pediatric AIDS in Uganda.

The costs of PMTCT are less than the costs of providing life-long care and treatment to infected children. We need to make this proven, cost-effective prevention method available to all pregnant women so we can create a generation free of HIV.

The writer is the communications and outreach officer for the Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation

The statements, comments, or opinions expressed through the use of New Vision Online are those of their respective authors, who are solely responsible for them, and do not necessarily represent the views held by the staff and management of New Vision Online.

New Vision Online reserves the right to moderate, publish or delete a post without warning or consultation with the author.Find out why we moderate comments. For any questions please contact

  • mail
  • img
blog comments powered by Disqus
Also In This Section
FORMER president Dr. Apollo Milton Obote has been honoured for his distinguished service to Busoga College Mwiri and the nation....
THE Ministry of Health has appealed to religious groups to counsel men to stop having extramarital sex to stem the raising rates of HIV infections....
THE Chinese community in Uganda on Tuesday celebrated their 62nd independence anniversary....
MAKERERE University has sued the National Insurance Corporation (NIC) over a sh16.7b pension savings package it claims the insurance giant owes it....
PRESIDENT Yoweri Museveni will lead the alumni of the University of Dar-es-Salaam in Uganda to a fundraising drive targeting sh1b for the Tanzania-based institution....
THE UPDF officers, dressed in neatly pressed uniforms complete with gleaming black boots, took to the podium, many accompanied by their spouses. Then, they were decorated....
Is Uganda ready for the pope's visit?
Can't Say
follow us
subscribe to our news letter