Mmegi Online :: Cultural, religious barriers hinder fight against HIV/AIDS
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Cultural, religious barriers hinder fight against HIV/AIDS

As government continues the tackle HIV/AIDS, health officials say social, cultural and religious barriers still hinder the fight.
By Nnasaretha Kgamanyane Tue 05 Dec 2017, 18:59 pm (GMT +2)
Mmegi Online :: Cultural, religious barriers hinder fight against HIV/AIDS








Speaking at PERFAR Botswana and INK Centre for investigative Journalism’s media training workshop on health in Mogoditshane recently, Catherine Chirwa, a public health specialist said even though some mothers enroll for Prevention of Mother To Child Transmission (PMTCT) programme immediately after being diagnosed as HIV positive, they were facing a huge setback in getting zero mother-to-child transmission.

She said some mothers refuse to take medication because their pastors forbid them to do that as they tell them that a prayer and God could heal the epidemic.

“Church believers always tell us that their pastors had prayed for them and that they believe that they are healed. Those pastors tell them that they are healed and it is difficult to convince such people to take treatment so that they can prevent their children from contracting the virus,” she said, adding that in 2016, 152 babies were born with HIV. “Last quarter nine out of 1,109 babies in PEPFAR supported sites were affected,” she said.

Chirwa explained

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that there was need to provide PMTCT education, as this would help people understand the importance of the programme to halt new infections among children. She further called on pastors to join hands with the government and help fight HIV by encouraging their members to enroll in PMTCT and take their ARVs instead of misleading them.

She added that contributing factors to children born with the HIV included non-booking mothers, mothers who seroconverted (status changing from negative to positive) late in pregnancies during breastfeeding. Chirwa said they had three such cases in Mahalapye.

“We have approximately 42,000 deliveries per year with an overall 30.4% of pregnant women testing HIV positive. Approximately 13,000 HIV infected women deliver per day.

“We launched PMTCT in 1999 as a pilot project in Francistown where it gave us positive results. That is when we started a nationwide rollout in July 2000 till November 2001 before establishing a full integration into sexual and reproductive health services,” she explained.

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