Nigeria is set to adopt new World Health Organisation (WHO) guidelines in how HIV-positive pregnant women are managed in attempts to prevent transmission of the virus from mothers to unborn babies, Daily Trust has learnt.
The new guidelines developed since 2012 mean pregnant women will be placed on a single daily tablet of the drug Atripla throughout pregnancy and breastfeeding, said Dr Oladipo Shittu, on the taskforce of Nigeria’s HIV response.
Previous regimen for prevention of mother-to-child transmission of HIV required a different drug taken morning and evening.
Atripla could be discontinued after the first birthday unless the mother is eligible to continue a separate antiretroviral treatment for life, he added.
And it is “very effective, and useful even circumstances where the woman has hepatitis or anaemia,” said Dr Shittu. “Some of the other drugs could not be used with anaemia or hepatitis, but this one tolerates all.”
Up to 30% of annual 5 to 6 million births come with risk of HIV, which could be reduced to around 20% using current intervention, said Dr Shittu.
The guidelines were adopted at a meeting of experts to review progress of national response to HIV/AIDS.
Data available so far show an upsurge in the number of enrolled for prevention of mother-to-child transmission of the virus has increased to 30,000 this year alone, compared with around 27,000 at the end of 2013, according to Dr Evelyn Ngige, director of national HIV response at the federal health ministry.
“For the first time in Nigeria, this year, within six months, we have doubled coverage for PMTCT,” said Rex Mpanzanje, WHO HIV advisor.
“That indicates the national response is accelerating. In the past, everybody has been crying and looking forward to strategies that will help the response accelerate, but that has started being seen this year in the first six months.”