The National Agency for the Control of AIDS (NACA) has advised pregnant women to take needed steps towards protecting their babies from HIV.
Speaking during an exclusive interview with Daily Trust, the Director General of the agency, Dr Aliyu Gambo, said prevention of mother to child transmission of HIV would also help reduce new HIV infections in the country.
He said pregnant women should work assiduously towards protecting their unborn babies from having HIV.
“It is your responsibility to do that. It is also the responsibility of your husband also remind you that in this pregnancy, we should protect this baby from disease and one of them is HIV,” he said.
Dr Aliyu said protecting the baby from HIV starts with testing.
“You need to test and know your status during each pregnancy. If the status turns from negative to positive, that baby needs protection and that protection needs to be given,” he said.
The NACA director general said there is access to only two million out of the eight million pregnant mothers that deliver every year in Nigeria.
He said, “We have access to roughly about two million that come to facilities; register for antenatal services and have access to HIV testing. It is out of the two million that we test and identify those that are HIV positive during that particular pregnancy and do what we needed to do to prevent mother to child transmission.
“The balance of six million we don’t account for them. Our effort now is to go to the community to make sure we get that balance of six million. So by next year, instead of having access to two million pregnant mothers, we intend to have access to as much as we can get – between two and eight million. That is our target.”
Dr Aliyu said improving the Prevention of Mother-to-child Transmission of HIV (PMTCT) services is one of the core targets of his agenda in repositioning the agency, adding that was why he convened the recent summit.
“The purpose of that is to see how to turn prevention of mother to child transmission around to an extent that we can be comfortable to say that majority of pregnant mothers that conceive in Nigeria have access to HIV services during their pregnancy and if they are HIV positive, we will ensure that baby is protected from having the disease,” he added.