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Three-month-old babies can be tested for HIV

By Vision Reporter

Added 30th January 2007 03:00 AM

UGANDA can now detect the sero status of babies born to HIV positive mothers at three months and not one and a half years, like the case has been.

UGANDA can now detect the sero status of babies born to HIV positive mothers at three months and not one and a half years, like the case has been.

By Lillian Nalumansi

UGANDA can now detect the sero status of babies born to HIV positive mothers at three months and not one and a half years, like the case has been.

Dr. Elizabeth Madraa, the AIDS Control Programme manager, said this will spare mothers the agony of waiting for 18 months before knowing whether their babies are HIV-positive or not.

The new testing method is known as Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR).

“Because we had to wait, we would lose children at one or two years. Identifying the infection early will help us save more children,” Madraa said.

The Ministry of Health programme officer for Prevention of Mother to Child HIV Transmission (PMTCT), Dr. Justice Nankinga, said the new method is user-friendly because it does not require healthcentres to have sophisticated laboratories.

“With it, you don’t need to draw a lot of blood from the baby. PCR uses a drop of blood put on a filter paper, then dried, sealed and transported to a main hospital or the Joint Clinical Research Centre,” Nankinga said.

The sample can be kept for as long as a month.

EGPAF’s country director William Salmond, said the PCR testing method will save healthcentres from having to acquire CD4 count machines which detect the viral load of HIV in a person before they can be started on Antiretroviral drugs.

EGPAF is a paediatric organisation which has been in Uganda since 2001. It is one of the biggest implementers of the PMTCT programmes and provider of care and treatment to children living with HIV in Uganda. It is currently supporting PMTCT activities in 20 districts in Uganda.

Through its support, over 40,000 pregnant women in Uganda have been tested for HIV and over 1,700 babies received the nevirapine drug that halves the chances of them contracting HIV/AIDS from their mothers.

She was recently handing over 15 motorcycles to health workers under the Directorate of District Health Services at the Elizabeth Glaser Paediatric AIDS Foundation (EGPAF) offices on Lumumba Avenue.

The motorcycles were the last batch of a total of 33 that were distributed to the directorate in different districts. They were purchased with funds from the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief.

Three-month-old babies can be tested for HIV

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