By CHRISTABEL LIGAMI
• The new regime, known as prevention of mother to child transmission option B+ was recommended by the World Health Organisation to improve maternal and paediatric health. The regime has been integrated into antenatal care services.
In East Africa, new guidelines for HIV management require all pregnant women with HIV/Aids virus to be put on anti-retroviral treatment to prevent transmission of the virus to their unborn children.
The new regime, known as prevention of mother to child transmission option B+ was recommended by the World Health Organisation to improve maternal and paediatric health. The regime has been integrated into antenatal care services.
The prevention of mother to child transmission (PMTCT) of HIV services have been introduced into regular maternal, new born and child health (MNCH) clinics, instead of operating them as stand-alone programmes.
This is in line with WHO guidelines on mother-to-child transmission of HIV. WHO recently introduced new guidelines supporting the initiation of HIV treatment for all pregnant women for life called PMTCT Option B+, aimed at improving maternal and paediatric health.
The guidelines will see transmission rates in East Africa reduce by 31 per cent by 2015, while treatment costs should drop below the current levels.
Kenya and Uganda have already adopted the new guidelines and the drug is being administered to all expectant mothers with the virus.
Peter Muiruri, the manager for the HIV Comprehensive Care Centre at Kenyatta National Hospital said Option B+ regimen will replace the administration of the AZT drug (option A) to expectant mothers, following WHO’s recommendation in 2011.
Research showed that the AZT drug has several side effects such as premature aging and causing heart and brain complications. The AZT drug is no longer used in developed countries yet is a major treatment option in developing countries like Kenya.
“Option B+ offers protection against mother-to-child transmission in future pregnancies, as well as continuing prevention against the virus for the entire life of the mother. Previous guidelines for PMTCT put a lot of focus on the prevention of HIV transmission from mother to child with little focus on the wellbeing of the mother,” said Dr Muiruri.
He said that the new regime focuses on both prevention of HIV transmission from the mother to the infant, and the mother’s health as she continues with medication even after delivery.