Thursday, November 4, 2010

Evidence in South Africa of Failure to Treat HIV-Positive Infants

From PlusNews

Natal Province remains the epicentre of South Africa’s HIV epidemic but new research reveals that nearly a third of hospitals surveyed had not started a single HIV-positive infant on antiretroviral treatment in several years.

research, presented at this week’s Orphaned and Vulnerable Children (OVC) in Africa Conference in Johannesburg, was conducted by the University of the Witwatersrand’s Maternal, Adolescent and Child Health (MatCH) Unit, with the government.

MatCH tracked the number of children under 15 who were put on antiretroviral drugs (ARVs) at 10 major KwaZulu-Natal hospitals near the coastal city of Durban over three years. While data collection is often problematic at these facilities, the survey relied on clinic ARV registers and statistics routinely reported to the provincial government.

The researchers found that three of the hospitals had no record of treating an HIV-positive infant during the period; another two hospitals that they had put 11 infants or fewer on the life-saving drugs.

The study also showed that while treatment initiation was higher among older children, the number of children on ARVs varied greatly from year to year and between facilities.

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