Mother-to-child campaign breaks the
mother-to-child transmission of HIV has become the flagship programme in the Western Cape's anti-Aids initiative, leading the way not only for
but also for the continent.
and hospitals are usually the HIV-positive patients' first port of call and all
our staff have been through the clinical mentorship programme and are specially
trained to care for HIV patients," Smuts said.
In greater Cape Town,
100 percent of pregnant women have access to
nevirapine, the drug proven to at least halve the chance of an HIV-positive
mother passing on the virus to her baby.
Leading provincial Aids expert, Dr Fareed Abdullah, said the programme would
save more than 1 000 babies annually.
But, he said, the spin-offs were just as important.
"It has helped remove the secrecy around HIV. With more than 30 000 women
tested on the programme during the past three years, the epidemic is no longer
buried deep in the labyrinth of private life.
"The programme has also united us all against
the virus, bringing together the government, non-government organisations,
clinics and the community," he said.
Brenda Smuts, Cape Town's Aids co-ordinator in the provincial health
department, said nevirapine was offered free at all maternity units in the city.
Voluntary counselling and testing were also available
from a total of 167 lay counsellors, through NGOs funded by the provincial
In addition, all full-time nursing staff, health
educators and doctors were also trained to do the procedures in the absence of a
"At these facilities they are offered not only
counselling and testing, but also treatment of any opportunistic infections,
which usually come long before they get so sick that they need anti-retrovirals.
But if they do, our staff are in a position to channel them to other
Treatment was available for common opportunistic
infections such as thrush, tuberculosis, pneumonia, skin disorders and sexually
Smuts said the provincial health department had, in
conjunction with St Luke's Hospice, set up a 20-bed hospice for adults,
currently moving from Conradie
and a 30-bed hospice for children at St
"We are negotiating to open another hospice
urgently in the northern suburbs and to make beds available in the Helderberg