Sixty-seven percent of HIV-infected pregnant women in the country received anti-retroviral therapy (ARVs) to reduce the risk of mother-to-child transmission last year, it has been learnt.
The latest statistics were revealed at a media training workshop on HIV/TB organised by SafAids in Bulawayo on Thursday.
National Aids Council spokesperson Orirando Manwere said the increase in ARV uptake could be attributed to an increase in facilities offering HIV testing for pregnant mothers.
“By the end of 2010, a total of 1 560 facilities were providing antenatal care (ANC) services, of which 60% were offering both on-site HIV testing and ARVs,” he said.
“However, the remaining 520 facilities offer ARVs for PMTCT, but do not yet offer on-site HIV testing.”
Manwere, however, said there was need to scale up HIV testing in ANC.
“In 2010, a total of 87% of pregnant women attending ANC services were tested for HIV, compared to 85% in 2009.”
He said 62% of infants born to HIV-infected mothers were receiving prophylaxis.
Manwere added there was need to raise awareness to mothers who give birth to HIV-positive children to have their children tested.
“There is very low uptake of the HIV paediatric drug for infants born with HIV. The reason is because it depends on the parents of the child to take the child for HIV testing.”
The law states every child below the age of 16 has to be accompanied by a parent or guardian when taking an HIV test.
As at June 2010, 33 424 children had received anti-retroviral therapy.
At least 150 000 children below the age of 15 were living positively and 13 300 children under the age of 15 died from HIV-related illnesses in 2010 because they did not receive HIV treatment on time.
Health and Child Welfare minister Henry Madzorera recently revealed 14 000 of the anticipated 47 000 children born to HIV-positive couples in 2011 were likely to be infected with HIV.