Preventing HIV Transmission from Mother to Baby


Liz Waid and Rebekah Schipper look at ways to prevent mothers from passing the HIV virus to their babies. Many people are very afraid of this problem. But most babies will not get the virus. And there are many good ways to keep babies healthy.

Transcript


Voice 1

Thank you for joining us for today’s Spotlight program. I’m Liz Waid.

Voice 2

And I’m Rebekah Schipper. Spotlight uses a special English method of broadcasting. It is easier for people to understand, no matter where in the world they live.

Voice 1

Olga lives in Russia. She is twenty-two [22] weeks pregnant. The unborn baby seems healthy. And Olga is happy about her pregnancy. But doctors are encouraging Olga to abort her baby. They want to kill the baby growing inside of her. Some members of her family agree with the doctors. They believe it would be best to end the baby’s life. But why?

Voice 2

Well, Olga is HIV positive. She has the virus that causes AIDS. And there is no cure for the AIDS disease. Doctors and family members are afraid that Olga’s body may infect her baby with HIV. They believe that it would be better for the baby to never live than for the baby to have HIV. But Olga will not give up. She is firm that she WILL have her baby.

Voice 1

What would you do in this situation? How likely is it that Olga’s baby will become HIV positive? How would the baby get the virus? Are there ways that Olga can protect her baby from getting HIV? Today’s Spotlight will answer these questions.

Voice 2

The World Health Organization, the WHO, has some shocking findings about HIV in children. They say that each day about one thousand five hundred [1,500] CHILDREN under age fifteen [15] become infected with HIV.

Voice 1

Most of these children get the virus from their mothers. Many babies with HIV do not survive very long. In fact, twenty-five to thirty [25-30] percent of babies infected by their mothers will die before their first birthday

Voice 2

HIV positive mothers can pass the virus to their babies in three [3] main ways. An unborn baby may become infected while he is still inside his mother’s uterus. He may become infected while being born. Or, he may become infected while receiving breast milk from his mother.

Voice 1

How likely is it that an HIV positive mother will pass the virus on to her baby? Well, this depends on what she does. If the woman does not do anything, there is about a one [1] in four [4] chance that she will pass the virus to her baby during her pregnancy or the birth. If the mother breast feeds after the baby is born, the risk of transmission is even higher. However, knowledge and action can greatly reduce these risks.

Voice 2

Knowledge is the most important thing in preventing HIV transmission from mother to baby. The WHO says that pregnant women need to know if they are HIV positive. This means health care centers must offer HIV testing services. If a woman knows her HIV condition she can make better decisions for herself and her unborn baby. Some women are frightened to get an HIV test. They believe their families or communities may reject them. But informed pregnant women can make better choices for their pregnancies and birth deliveries.

Voice 1

Drugs are also an important part of preventing HIV transmission from mother to baby. Drug treatment while a woman is still pregnant can prevent babies from getting HIV from their mothers. And drug treatment after a baby is born is also important. Treatment can prevent the baby from becoming infected. And if a baby does become infected, treatment can help the baby to live longer.

Voice 2

Also, correct health care is very important to prevent a mother from passing the virus to her baby. Health centers must be able to offer prevention methods like support, drug treatment and necessary medical care for the mother and child. They must be able to advise and support their patients. They must be able to offer drug treatments. They must be also able to perform and offer different delivery methods. Doctors can take steps to lower the risk of HIV transmission from mother to baby.

Voice 1

Ways of delivering a baby can influence HIV transmission. A traditional natural birth is only one [1] method of delivering a baby. But doctors can use other delivery methods to decrease the risk of transmission. Correct health care can also encourage better care of the baby after birth.

Voice 2

Informed pregnant women can also choose the best method to feed their babies. For healthy women without HIV, breast feeding is usually best. Breast milk provides all the healthy substances a new born baby needs. And it is free.

Voice 1

But women with HIV need to know that breast milk can pass HIV to the baby. It is true that in some cases it may be best to breast feed even if the mother has HIV. This may be the case if a community is struggling with hunger. But this is not the case all the time. So, if a new mother is HIV positive she must consider her individual situation. Doctors and health care workers can help her decide if breast feeding is the best decision for her and her baby.

Voice 2

Providing HIV testing and advising, safe birth deliveries, and drug treatments for HIV and AIDS are very important. But who can receive these prevention services? In many developed countries these services are already very common. The WHO says that in these places less than two [2] percent of HIV infected mothers give the virus to their babies. But can services like these exist in resource-poor areas? The WHO says yes!

Voice 1

Many developing countries have already taken steps to provide mother to child transmission prevention services. The country of Botswana is a powerful example. AIDS is a big problem in that country. But officials there have worked hard to provide transmission prevention services. All public clinics that deal with babies offer these services for free. In 2005, about ninety-two [92] percent of women giving birth in hospitals there got tested for HIV. Seventy [70] percent of those who were HIV positive also received drug treatments. These drug treatments helped to reduce the rate of HIV transmission from mother to child. Botswana has successfully reduced the HIV transmission rate from mothers to babies. The rate there is now less than six [6] percent.

Voice 2

There are many barriers that stand in the way of successfully stopping HIV. But there is hope for the future. HIV positive pregnant women do not have to live in fear. Preventing mother to child transmission of HIV is possible.

Voice 1

The WHO says that when countries choose to act and provide these services, programs like this are very successful. People should know that there are ways to prevent HIV transmission from mother to baby. These methods work. And people should work to encourage and support them in their own communities.

Voice 2

The writer and producer of today’s program was Liz Waid. Computer users can hear our programs on our website at http://www.radio.english.net. This program is called “Preventing HIV Transmission from Mother to Baby.”

Voice 1

You can e-mail us at radio @ english . net. Goodbye!

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