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SOUTH AFRICA: Many HIV-positive pregnant women not receiving nevirapine - study

[This report does not necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations]

JOHANNESBURG, 30 August (PLUSNEWS) - Nearly a quarter of pregnant women who test positive for HIV in South Africa's Gauteng Province are not receiving nevirapine to prevent mother-to-child transmission of the virus.

Farrah Ismail, a registrar at the department of paediatrics and child health at the University of Witwatersrand in Johannesburg, surveyed 182 mother-infant pairs at four hospitals and eight obstetric units and found that only 33 of 42 HIV-positive mothers had been given nevirapine. A single dose of nevirapine given to mother and infant can reduce the risk of transmission by about 40 percent.

She believes staff failed to administer the drug because they had not received adequate training in how to use a complicated coding system to keep HIV status confidential. "There needs to be increased education of health workers on how to use the coding system properly," she told a local newspaper, The Star.

Gauteng's health department says women's reluctance to test and accept their HIV status is the main obstacle to its prevention of mother-to-child transmission (PMTCT) programme, but Ismail said "sub-optimal" administration was the real culprit, as 85 percent of the women in her study chose to take an HIV test.

The government began providing nevirapine to HIV-positive pregnant women in 2002 after losing a legal battle with the AIDS lobby group, Treatment Action Campaign (TAC).



Recent SOUTH AFRICA Reports
Government pressured to review HIV/AIDS communication strategy,  25/Aug/06
HIV/AIDS figures "stabilising", new report ,  21/Jul/06
Now heard - children's voices on HIV/AIDS,  17/Jul/06
Govt needs to close loopholes to protect kids ,  13/Jul/06
Soap star on drugs!,  12/Jul/06
· AIDS Media Center
· The Global Fund to fight AIDS, Tuberculosis & Malaria
· International Community of Women Living with HIV/AIDS
· International HIV/AIDS Alliance

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