18 April 2016
THE story headlined â€˜I infected my baby . . . I will never forgive myselfâ€™ should really get expecting women thinking about the dangers of mother to child transmission.
It is one thing to be afraid of getting tested for HIV in our individual capacities and a totally different thing to be responsible for passing the virus to an innocent child.
What makes this sin so bad is the fact that this is something that can easily be prevented.
Any mother in Zimbabwe can easily access a hospital or clinic that can provide antenatal care and save the lives of thousands of unborn babies.
The mother in the case in point has a four-month-old baby who has been constantly in and out of hospital because of problems like thrush in her mouth and other opportunistic infections.
It is not easy to live with an HIV positive baby and such a childâ€™s growth is tough and filled with difficulties that uninfected children do not face.
Preventing all this suffering is the responsibility of each expecting mother and saving herself from the hardships of caring for an HIV positive baby should be the least of her reasons for preventing the transmission of the virus to the baby.
The real reason should be thinking about that childâ€™s right to a healthy life whenever it can be granted.
The mother in todayâ€™s story says she â€œdestroyed (her) childâ€™s life because of ignorance and povertyâ€ and she will never forgive herself for the childâ€™s suffering.
These are not thoughts that are easy to live with in life. It is not easy to live with a child who is HIV positive knowing you are somehow responsible as a parent for their condition.
Whilst Aids is not a death sentence, it is always vital to avoid and prevent it as much as possible.
It is important for all expecting mothers, whether they know their HIV status or not to be educated on the prevention of mother to child transmission of HIV programme.
All expecting mothers should be tested for HIV and should they be found positive, they must ensure all efforts are made to prevent transmission on delivery.
Antenatal care during pregnancy is of utmost importance and we hope there will come a time when mother to child transmission is totally eliminated.
According to the Zimbabwe Maternal and Perinatal Study of 2007, HIV and Aids is the leading indirect cause of maternal mortality contributing about 25 percent and just like with pregnancy-induced hypertension/eclampsia, post-partum hemorrhage and puerperal sepsis, care must be taken to avoid mother-to-child transmission.
A lot of things will have to be done for the country to achieve the 96 percent pregnant women attending ANC target any time soon.