THERE IS a need for pregnant women to undergo HIV testing to ensure the protection of their unborn babies, a Southern Philippines Medical Center official said.
The Southern Philippines Medical Center Hope and Care Today (SPMC HACT) stressed that HIV testing during the third trimester must be mandatory as the earlier detection and treatment, the better.
HIV modes of transmission include mother to infant during pregnancy, childbirth, and breastfeeding. Early detection will enable the specialists to put the mother into Antiretroviral Therapy (ART) to minimize the chance of transmission.
If unable to be detected earlier, the infant will undergo ART. For instance, the HACT HIV statistics cumulative report showed 13 patients on pediatric antiretroviral therapy (ART), aged between one year and 20 years old.
The October 2023 monthly report also showed 85 pregnant women screened for HIV. Meanwhile, there are 16 pregnant women (from far-flung areas) with HIV under their care.
Among four treatment hubs in the region, only the SPMC and Davao Regional Medical Center in Tagum City accept pregnant women living with HIV.
Arnie Villanueva, SPMC HACT HIV-AIDS core team unit manager, said, “During prenatal checkups, they are required to undergo syphilis testing, Herpes, then why not just include HIV testing since it has a similar mode of transmission, and at least the baby will be safe.”
She said pregnant women under the care of SPMC are closely monitored, which explains the zero cases of mother-to-child HIV transmission reported in the hospital.
She added all newborn babies perinatally exposed to HIV are administered with ARV prophylaxis to reduce the risk of infection. As of Oct 2023, there is only one newborn baby under prophylaxis.
The SPMC HACT reminds Davaoeños to visit the hospital and avail of free services including HIV counseling and testing, CD4, Viral load, and other routine laboratories for enrolled patients, ARV medication dispensing and adherence counseling, opportunistic infection medicines, flu vaccination, baseline laboratory assistance to newly diagnosed patients, among others.
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