From left to right: Health Sister, Karen Grannum; Staff Nurse of the antenatal department of QEH, Cheryl Homer-Moore; Paediatric Consultant of the QEH, Professor Anne St. John; Health Promotion Officer of the HIV/AIDS Management Unit in the MInistry of Health, Norma Bynoe admire the posters. (A. Miller/BGIS)??

Thanks early detection and treatment, Barbados has not recorded any new cases of transmission of HIV from mother-to-child for the past four years.

This confirmation came from Paediatric Consultant at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital (QEH), Professor Anne St. John, following the handover of HIV posters and brochures to the Paediatric Ward of the QEH, yesterday.

The posters, which were developed by the HIV/AIDS Management Unit of the Ministry of Health, with the assistance of UNICEF, were designed to encourage expecting mothers to be tested for the virus early.

Professor St. John said: "…The occurrence of HIV in children is mainly through transmission from mother-to-child. So what we do is recommend testing of mothers early in pregnancy…and a second test later in pregnancy to prevent detection not being picked up."

She explained that mothers who are diagnosed with HIV are then referred to the QEH and the Ladymeade Clinic at Jemmott’s Lane for evaluation and counseling, before being prescribed with anti-retroviral drugs. The Professor further mentioned that babies of an HIV-infected mother are also treated for a week after birth to "eliminate any virus particles that may be in the system".

"This is a worldwide practice and it has resulted in almost total elimination of mother to child transmission, certainly in Barbados, of HIV," she stressed.

She added that the posters, which would be placed in medical institutions across the island, were not only for mothers, but for all women.

"We have to keep encouraging women to get tested, even when they are not pregnant. Once you are sexually active and have a relationship then you should know your status," the Paediatric Consultant asserted.


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