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Efforts Underway In Namibia To Treat Pediatric HIV

Inter Press Service examines how efforts underway in Namibia have helped to decrease the number of infants born with HIV while also increasing the number of HIV-positive infants on life-saving antiretrovirals (ARVs). According to the news service, since the launch of an early infant detection (EID) program in 2006, “the number of HIV-infected newborns has dropped from 13 percent to two percent in Namibia, according to the national Ministry of Health” — figures that “stand in sharp contrast with data from other African countries where many pregnant women are not diagnosed in time to prevent mother-to-child transmission of the virus and only a few HIV-positive infants receive ARVs.”

Of the 20,000 children living with HIV in Namibia, “7,622 children are receiving ARV treatment,” according to Angela Mushavi, who is PMTCT coordinator of the CDC, a major donor for Namibia’s EID-programme. “Namibia’s progress in paediatric HIV has been particularly impressive, in light of the challenges facing its health care system,” the news service writes.

The article highlights how the dry-blood sampling used for EID testing can be completed by parents and preserved during week-long shipments to laboratories and additional ways that the government has worked to make ARV treatments easier for infants and their caregivers (Van Den Bosch, 7/28).

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