UNICEF Myanmar supports new HIV/AIDS program for infants
Hospitals to offer services to prevent mother-to-child transmission of HIV/AIDS
Yangon, 16 May 2005 – Today UNICEF, UNFPA and the National AIDS Program in Myanmar launched a new hospital-based program to prevent the mother-to-child transmission of HIV/AIDS.
Myanmar’s ten largest hospitals will now offer a package of services to help prevent mother-to-child HIV/AIDS transmission, and in the coming months and years, additional State and Division hospitals throughout the country will begin providing transmission prevention services.
HIV/AIDS remains on the rise in Myanmar. As the number of women infected by the disease increases, so too does the number of infants who contract HIV from their mothers.
“Every year in Myanmar, at least 10,000 HIV-positive women become pregnant, giving birth to at least 3,000 to 4,000 children who are infected with HIV,” said UNICEF Representative Carroll Long. “Today marks a new step in our work to prevent the mother-to-child transmission of HIV/AIDS in Myanmar by making prevention, treatment and care services more readily available to mothers and newborn children.”
UNICEF has been supporting the National AIDS Program in the introduction and expansion of prevention of mother-to-child transmission (PMCT) services over the past five years. Today, in 40 different townships throughout Myanmar, this program provides confidential counseling and testing services, antiretroviral prophylaxis, safe delivery training and supplies, and counseling for HIV-positive mothers on infant feeding and other care practices.
In 17 of these townships, UNICEF works with INGOs and the Myanmar Nurses Association to support comprehensive home-based care for infected children, as well as children with infected parents and children orphaned by HIV/AIDS. Assistance can include family counseling and care training, psychosocial support, and support for children to attend school.
“Despite these efforts, there are many more children who we are not reaching, and who need our assistance,” said UNICEF Representative Carroll Long. “We need to work together to strengthen activities to help women prevent HIV infection, to extend PMCT services to more women and children, to strengthen underlying health service delivery systems, and to provide more effective treatment regimens.
UNICEF in Myanmar spends an average of US$ 2 million each year in support of HIV/AIDS prevention and care programs.
UNICEF already provides the antiretroviral drug Nevirapine for HIV-positive mothers and their newborns, which can reduce the risk of transmission by half. One key aspect of the hospital-based PMCT program in Myanmar will be providing more complex and potent antiretroviral regimens to offer heightened protection to children.
UNICEF’s global commitment to second-generation efforts to prevent the mother-to-child transmission of HIV/AIDS includes support for bringing pilot PMCT services to scale, support for primary prevention, the introduction of new antiretroviral prevention regimens, and using PMCT efforts as an entry point for providing more HIV-positive people – particularly parents and children – with antiretroviral therapy.
For further information please contact:
Jason Rush, Communication Officer, UNICEF in Myanmar