Monday, January 24, 2011

Pediatric AIDS Foundation attempts to reduce MTCT of HIV in Zimbabwe

The Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation is leading a five-year, $45 million campaign to eliminate pediatric AIDS in Zimbabwe. The money for the project came from a grant from the Children’s Investment Fund Foundation. The program will focus on prevention of mother-to-child transmission of HIV (PMTCT). Particular attention will be given to women in rural areas without access to health services. It is thought that 13% of pregnant women in Zimbabwe are HIV positive and that few of these women are receiving any prenatal care. When drugs are given for PMTCT, women often only receive a single dose of Navirapine and are not given the significantly more effective new drug therapies.

The Pediatric AIDS Foundation is directing their resources towards testing, training services and counseling for women. They are, however, relying on the government of Zimbabwe to provide the drugs for PMTCT. The Pediatric AIDS Foundation has suggested that the money for drugs will come from the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, TB and Malaria but due to corruption, political instability and a ruthless dictator, many organizations are reluctant to provide the government of Zimbabwe with money.

While the Pediatric AIDS Foundation is attempting to reduce pediatric HIV infection, testing programs are useless if drugs are not available to women who test positive. It is also unclear from the article what kind of training will be provided to health workers. Zimbabwe has an enormous problem with the ‘brain drain’ and many trained medical professional leave the country after receiving training. It remains to be seen how the Pediatric AIDS foundation will ensure that the $45 million is spent on long-term sustainable HIV prevention.

Hannah Harrison

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