Preventing Mother-to-Child Transmission of HIV in Nepal
Knowing their status is a necessary step for women to prevent mother-to-child transmission of HIV, but pregnant women often lack access to HIV testing.
Through the Determine Donation Program, which works to provide Rapid HIV tests free-of-charge to people in need via nongovernmental organizations, Direct Relief recently initiated a shipment of these tests and services to Nepal through Family Health International (FHI) 360 and National Center for AIDS and STD Control (NCASC).
FHI 360 Nepal and NCASC have been partners with Direct Relief since 2009, and because of the expansion of these programs, which support 41 hospitals and health centers in Nepal, over 125,000 tests were delivered in this recent handover, providing 1,250 kits specifically for pregnant women.
Having access to these tests is especially important as every day, approximately 1,000 children become infected with HIV worldwide. More than 90 percent of those infections occur due to mother-to-child transmission during pregnancy, delivery, or breastfeeding. However, by simply providing appropriate care and treatment to mothers, this rate can be dramatically dropped to less than 5 percent.
The Determine Rapid HIV-1/2 test is a simple, 15-minute test that tests for HIV antibodies through a small amount of whole blood, serum, or plasma: any hospital can therefore generate highly accurate results, even without the use of specialty laboratory equipment or electricity.
Considering hospitals in Nepal often are affected by these limitations, these tests provide an easy testing alternative and eliminate the accessibility barriers typically surrounding testing pregnant women.
If these women are identified as HIV-positive, the hospitals help them access free and convenient therapy which can prevent their child from also being affected – a significant step toward an HIV-free generation.