College of Medicine, a constituent college of the University of Malawi says there is need to develop strategies which will discourage women from defaulting from anti–retroviral treatment.
Speaking on the sidelines of a stakeholders meeting by Clinton Health Access Initiative (CHAI) in Mangochi, Professor Victor Mwapasa said it is the country’s goal to eliminate HIV infection in children by 2030, something that can be achieved if lactating mothers do not default HIV treatment.
He pointed out that the prime study that CHAI did in collaboration with the College of Medicine in 30 health facilities of Mangochi and Salima managed to register a remarkable achievement in terms of eliminating HIV infection among infants.
Professor Mwapasa said the health sector noted that up to 30% of mothers who stopped taking ARVs and attending clinics by the end of one year after the birth of their child are more likely to transmit HIV to the infant.
“Obviously, there must be improvements in the numbers of health workers in facilities where there were very few personnel and clear guidelines as to how they will be implementing HIV transmission to reduce the number of mothers and infants dropping out after receiving HIV care,” he added.
Mwapasa also said there was a lot of stigma about mothers who are HIV positive when trying to get proper treatment from the health facilities.
“Some of the HIV positive mothers may stop taking ARVs and going to hospitals altogether because they don’t feel comfortable to disclose their status to their spouses and that they are on medication,” he said.
Mwapasa said the only way to eliminate HIV was to improve functionality of the health system, besides motivating mothers, families including husbands and communities to avoid talking ill about HIV positive people and provide them with adequate support.
Moreover, the prime study is recommending that there should be a shift in the health sector and communities because HIV mothers are just like any other person and there should not be situations where HIV mothers are being discriminated against in the community.