A workshop targeted at mapping out a work plan for members of the Journalists Alliance for the Prevention of Mother-To-Child Transmission of HIV/AIDS (JAPiN) in Nigeria have been held in Calabar, the Cross River State Capital.
Assistant Director, National PMTCT Lead, National AIDS and STIs Control Program (NASCP) at the Federal Ministry of Health, Ijaodola Olugbenga expressed concerns that over 63 per cent of pregnant women in Nigeria living with HIV lacks access to the Prevention of Mother-To-Child Transmission of HIV/AIDS (PMTCT) services and are likely to infect their babies.
According to him, three in four pregnant women in Nigeria are not captured during antenatal care. He said while Nigeria contributes to 22,000 new HIV infections among children, only 28 per cent of HIV exposed infants had access to early Infant Diagnosis in 2020.
He pointed that there are key issues why Nigeria has such high numbers, including “low uptake of early infant diagnosis services, low antenatal services uptake, low Anti Retroviral Therapy (ART) coverage for positive pregnant women, low rate of facility deliveries, amongst others.
In her presentation titled: “Managing Children and Adolescent Living with HIV”, Paediatric ART/ PMTCT, University of Calabar Teaching Hospital, Cross River State, Atana Ewa pointed that identifying HIV in children requires a high level of effort.
She said usually, the symptoms and signs of HIV infection in childhood are similar to those of other diseases in the tropics but they may be more severe and occur more frequently.
Ewa revealed some early features in children that are usually non-specific to include fever, diarrhoea, failure to thrive, cough, generalized Lymphadenopathy, adding that the child later presents with other features that are indicative of severe immune suppression amongst others.
She however said this situation can be managed with the new improved HIV drugs are available. On the current transmission of HIV in Nigeria, she says heterogeneous sex still account for the majority of transmission in Nigeria.
“Over 90 per cent of transmissions -unprotected sexual intercourse between heterogeneous individuals. MSM is currently contributing disproportionately to the overall national epidemic.
“It is estimated that Men Sleeping With Men (MSM) constitute only about one per cent of the Nigerian population, yet this group now contribute to 20 per cent of new HIV infections in Nigeria. Prevalence of the infection among MSM has been rising consistently from 14 per cent in 2007 to 17 per cent in 2010 and 23 percent in 2014”, she stated.
Ewa called on the media to project some intervention that would help eliminate Mother-To-Child Transmission of HIV to include; HIV counselling and testing at entry into PMTCT to detect positive women, ART given to positive women during pregnancy, minimally invasive procedures during labour/ elective Cesarean Section amongst others.