HIV pregnancy a cause for concern
February 18, 2011
HIV pregnancy a cause for concern

The number of HIV positive women who get pregnant remains a cause for concern to the medical staff at the Milton Cato Memorial Hospital (MCMH).{{more}}

There were 19 HIV pregnancies in 2010, according to Sister Faustina Ballantyne, the Departmental head for the Maternal and Child Health Department at the MCMH, as she presented her supervisor’s report at the 15th Perinatal Conference last Friday, February 11.

The 2010 figure is slightly up from the 2009 figure of 17. Statistics, however, indicated that the numbers for 2007 and 2008 stood at 23 and 22, respectively.

Six of the 19 pregnancies were new clients; the other 13 were known to be HIV positive prior to becoming pregnant, the report indicated.

Eight of the nineteen pregnancies were repeat pregnancies; 6 women were having their second pregnancy and 2 their third pregnancies.

Fifteen women delivered and there was one miscarriage, the report showed.

Dr Bernadette Scott, Medical Officer in the Paediatric Department, in her overview of the neonatal statistics and highlights, said indicated that 13 of the newborn infants were tested with 11 testing negative and one positive.

But Dr Clyde Cave, Consultant/Neonatologist at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Barbados, said that while the numbers were high, the challenge for local medical practitioners was in ensuring that women are screened and treated sooner.

“Why did it wait until pregnancy for it (the condition) to be diagnosed?” he questioned.

Cave also identified the other challenge, that of achieving 100 per cent of treatment for mothers as had been achieved for newborn infants, although he agreed that the infants were in a controlled environment and made it easier to do so.

“If you identify and treat women early, you’re significantly prolonging the mother’s lifespan and decreasing the chance of maternal, child transmission,” Cave explained.

Which brought him to the view that repeated pregnancies among HIV positive women are now being looked at in a different light.

“It used to be when a woman was HIV positive it was only a matter of time, a death sentence; the child may become infected and who was going to look at the child after mother died,” he said.

That is no longer the case, he said.(DD)