When President Jacob Zuma delivered his speech on World Aids Day in 2009, he announced far-reaching changes to be implemented in 2010.
In 2010, the Department of Health revised the Prevention of Mother-to-Child Transmission (PMTCT) policy, to include life-long HAART for HIV-positive women with a CD4+ T-cell count of 350, and dual ART from 14 weeks onwards in the pregnancies of HIV-positive women with a CD4+ T-cell count of 350. This is line with the World Health Organisation’s guidelines. HAART is a customised combination of different classes of medications.
For 33-year-old Anna Moganya from Limpopo, who was diagnosed with HIV in 2006, the PMTC programme meant that her positive status did not mean an automatic infection to her unborn child, like had been the case for many women years earlier.
When she was told of her HIV status during the 28th week of her pregnancy, the first thing Moganya thought of was her unborn child.
“I was so scared and angry. I concluded that my baby would be HIV positive. Back then I didn’t know of anyone who had HIV and it was very secretive. But I am happy to say that the treatment prevented my child from getting HIV. He is now a healthy nine-year-old and is HIV negative,” a teary Moganya said, as she shared her story at the International AIDS Conference in Durban.
Moganya certainly represents the hopes of millions of women in South Africa who find themselves in the position of being HIV positive when expecting a baby.
HIV prevalence among newborn babies fell from 8.5 percent in 2008 to below 2.4 percent in 2015. As a result, more than 100 000 babies were protected from HIV infection.
More than 800 000 women have been connected to the prevention of mother-to-child infections through MomConnect, a mobile platform which creates awareness among pregnant women about available health services for their infants.