HIV-free babies end programme

National, Normal

The National, Monday 17th June 2013

 TWENTY babies born of HIV-positive parents and cared for under the Prevention of Parents-to-Child Transmission Programme have been released from the Mt Hagen Provincial Hospital.

The children, who come from Western Highlands and other parts of the Highlands region, have all been tested negative. 

Their parents had also gone through the programme in the past two years.

The children, now more than two years old, were allowed to leave the hospital in an emotional but happy ceremony last Friday. 

They were issued with certificates by the chief executive officer of the Western Highlands health authority Dr James Kintwa.

Only 11 of the 20 children were present.

The programme is run by the Western Highlands provincial HIV/AIDS services set up by the health authority and the Clinton Health Access Initiative which provided care and treatment for those living with HIV and AIDS.

After the mothers tested positive during their clinics, they were put on antiretroviral therapy programmes starting from the first month of pregnancy to delivery. This was to prevent the unborn babies from being infected with the virus.

After delivery, the babies were tested three times for HIV – at six weeks old, 18 months and at 24 months.

The 20 children tested negative in the three tests, resulting in their release as normal healthy children.

Provincial HIV/AIDS services coordinator Petrus Kombea said many mothers did not attend clinics and therefore did not know their HIV status until delivery.

Deputy chief physician in the region Dr Wesong Boko said parents and health workers should be thanked for their hard work.

Kintwa said delivering health services in the province was a big task and the Western Highlands Provincial Health Authority needed partners to help deliver these services.