HIV positive pregnant women have the potential to transmit the HIV infection to their babies in pregnancy, during childbirth and during breast feeding. Nigeria has about 380,000 children living with HIV. This is over 30% of the children in the world with HIV/AIDS. This picture is abysmal. What is even more worrisome is that countries with fewer resources than Nigeria that is, Anguilla, Antigua and Barbuda, Bermuda, Cayman Islands, Montserrat, and Saint Kitts and Nevis in 2017 eliminated mother-to-child transmission of HIV and syphilis as a public health threat. If these countries can achieve this feat why is Nigeria lacking behind?
Nigeria’s high rate is due to the low coverage of the prevention of mother to child transmission of HIV (PMTCT) programme. The programme includes interventions to block the transmission of the HIV (HIVirus) from an infected mother to the unborn child and during breast feeding. Though there has been a reduction in new cases in children (62,000 in 2003 and 51,000 new cases in 2013), the rate of reduction is not worth celebrating, considering the fact that children are being infected and dying daily from what is preventable.
While government has to step up the prevention of mother to child transmission of HIV (PMTCT) programme, Nigerians should take the use of condoms to prevent the high rates of heterosexual transmissions seriously.
It is noteworthy that the current government is taking a more active step to eliminate mother-to-child transmission of HIV. This gives a glimmer of hope. If Antigua can win the battle against HIV transmission, why can’t Nigeria? We await the outcome measures of the interventions of the current government.