NEARLY 90% OF PREGNANT WOMEN who are HIV positive in Papua New Guinea fail to receive care to help prevent the virus infecting their unborn child.
Dr Mobuma Kiromat, clinical director of the Clinton Health Access Initiative program that is countering parent to child transmission, said much had been done to fight the HIV/AIDS epidemic in PNG.
But more work was needed, particularly to assist pregnant women. "We still haven't got it right, the (health) coverage actually is still very low," she said.
Dr Kiromat said 2.3% of pregnant women with HIV had access to treatment to prevent the spread of the disease to their baby in 2007, and this figure had grown to 11.1% in 2009.
"We would like that number to be above 50%," she said.
PNG was hard hit by the spread of HIV but the situation has improved thanks to aid programs and estimates of the infection among the population are about 0.9%, Dr Kiromat said.
Pregnant women are vulnerable, with many pre-natal clinics unable to provide testing for the virus.
A program is being rolled out to treat women with anti-retroviral medication from early in their pregnancy until after the baby is delivered. In these cases, transmission of the virus to the child falls from about 30% to 10%.
Source: The New Age / AFP, 30 November