Pregnant women refuse ARVs in Swakop

SWAKOPMUND: A total of 19 expecting women from Swakopmund in the Erongo Region allegedly refused anti-retroviral (ARV) treatment in 2013.

In the case of expecting mothers, the ARV drugs are used to avoid HIV being transmitted to unborn babies by their mothers.

Health Minister Richard Kamwi revealed this while officially opening clinics in the DRC informal settlement, Mondesa and Tamariskia here on Monday.

“I do not know whether counselling was provided to them, but I am informed that they refused the treatment,” a disappointed Kamwi stated.

There are currently 2 740 HIV-positive pregnant women on ARV treatment at the Tamariskia clinic.

The minister used this opportunity to call on all regional politicians to join health officials in encouraging residents to go for HIV counselling and testing.

“Refusing the treatment clearly puts the unborn babies at a significant risk of acquiring HIV infection at a time when we have very good interventions, which can eliminate the risk.

I, therefore, urge us all to ensure that communities are well-informed and educated on the available HIV and care interventions so that all eligible members of the community will be able to maximally benefit,” he stressed.

Kamwi said nobody should allow themselves to die of HIV/AIDS while Government provides treatment to prolong the lives of infected people, and saves the lives of children born to HIV-positive mothers.

“Please, those who refused the ARVs, reconsider your actions. It is not in the best interest of your babies, or the nation at large.

Why should we allow ourselves to die when we have interventions available? Everyone must get tested so that they can be put on treatment,” the Health Minister appealed.

He went on to say that as of late, one cannot tell the difference between a person on HIV/AIDS treatment and those who are not.

Therefore, everyone must get tested and be treated to live longer.

About 86 per cent of the 1 609 maternity clients managed in the Swakopmund District last year had a known HIV status, of which 196 (12 per cent) of mothers were HIV-positive and had interventions to reduce the transmission of the virus to their babies.

“As you may be aware, Namibia is lauded internationally for the achievements we attained in the area of HIV/AIDS prevention, treatment and care.

One of the highlighted achievements is the remarkable increase in the number of people accessing HIV prevention and treatment services,” noted Kamwi.

Currently in Namibia, 97 per cent of babies born from HIV-positive mothers are negative, and this is due to early treatment interventions.