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Prevention of mother to child transmission of HIV infection in Pacific countries

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Abstract Introduction:

A generalized epidemic of HIV infection has been evolving in Papua New Guinea over the last decade, whereas in other Pacific Island countries and territories (PICT) HIV transmission has generally been less widespread. Programmes to detect HIV infection in pregnant women and to prevent mother to child transmission (MTCT) during either delivery or breast-feeding can decrease the incidence of infection in infants. The limited health infrastructure present in some PICT may delay the implementation of effective programmes to decrease MTCT of HIV. Methods:

We used a standardized questionnaire to survey health-care providers in 22 PICT for information on the epidemiology of HIV infection and strategies used during 2004 to prevent MTCT of HIV infection in their country. We supplemented these survey responses with data obtained from regional organizations supporting national responses to HIV. Results:

We obtained responses from 21 PICT. The reported prevalence of known HIV infection was >150 per 100 000 persons in Papua New Guinea, approximately 100 per 100 000 persons in French Polynesia, Guam, New Caledonia and Tuvalu and <50 per 100 000 persons in the remaining 14 PICT. Other than in Papua New Guinea, where an estimated 500 pregnant women had HIV infection diagnosed in 2004, reported HIV infection among pregnant women was rare. Ten PICT reported that an HIV antibody test was offered as a routine component of antenatal care and 11 reported that antiretroviral medications were available for the prevention of MTCT of HIV infection. Conclusion:

The prevalence of HIV infection differs greatly between PICT with a varying risk of MTCT of HIV infection. Successful prevention of MTCT of HIV infection throughout the PICT will require improved uptake of antenatal HIV antibody testing and better access to antiretroviral medications.
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Keywords: HIV; Pacific; maternal; pregnancy; prevention; transmission

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Departments of Adult Infectious Diseases 2: Public Health Physician and Medical Epidemiologist, Suva, Fiji 3: Obstetric Medicine 4: Department of Infectious Diseases, Starship Children’s Health, Auckland Hospital, Auckland, New Zealand

Publication date: 01 April 2007

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