At least 123 children born from HIV positive mothers have been confirmed uninfected having gone through interventions of Prevention of Mother-To-Child-Transmission (PMTCT) in Mzimba District.
PMTCT is also known as prevention of vertical transmission.
Children born from positive mothers are prone to being infected during labour, delivery and breastfeeding; hence, tests of their status are done for two years.
Health authorities in the district said only three children have been confirmed infected with HIV in the third quarter of the year—July to September 2019.
Agnes Ndhlovu is a mother living with HIV and has two children.
Before delivering the two children, she had lost three as she was not aware that she was positive.
In 2008, Ndhlovu was diagnosed with HIV and started following PMTCT interventions.
She now has two uninfected children, one born in 2008 and the other in 2016.
“I faced stigma because I was just losing babies. From 2006, I have lost three children who were dying before reaching six months. I got tested, and started receiving treatment. I am happy now because I have two bouncy children,” she said.
And 40-year-old Witness Mkandawire from Zewera Village, Traditional Authority, M’mbelwa, shares a similar story.
She got very sick in 2005 and was advised to get HIV test.
“I never thought I would have children who would be HIV negative. After I got my first pregnancy, I was despised that I had made a wrong choice. But medical attendants at Mawiri Health Centre helped me a lot and the child was born negative,” Mkandawire said.
Mzimba South has 31 health centres and according to PMTCT coordinator, Joel Mkandawire, the only challenge is that most clients fail to come for follow up tests of their children.
“After the child is born, we administer Nevalapin to the child for six weeks. We then conduct other rapid tests at six months, 12 months and two years. The only challenge is that some of the clients do not come with their children for the regular tests, which put the children at risk of getting infected,” he said.
World Hope County Programmes Director, Davis Singini, whose organisation is working in the district encouraging women to get HIV tests and follow PMTCT guidelines, said they were impressed by the initiative.
Singini said they intend to reach out to over 20, 000 women through their PMTCT programme which started in 2018.
The organisation is working in seven health facilities in the district.
Approximately, one-third of children born to mothers who live with HIV in the world will acquire HIV infect ion in the absence of preventive measures, according to World Health Organisation.