At the early years of the HIV and AIDS epidemic when treatment was a mirage, a woman testing positive to HIV gives up hope of bearing a child for the fear of having HIV+ children.
With the advent of robust treatment, care and support; our women folks taking advantage of Prevention of Mother to Child Transmission(PMTCT) services smile with relief for the ability to have babies who are HIV+. What a wonderful world!
However, as a father, a husband and somebody living positively and constructively with HIV, I sure do have a role, in fact a bold and big one at that, in my wife’s effort at accessing PMTCT. I play strong roles in supporting my wife on treatment to attain a robust CD4 count and undetectable level of HIV in her blood. It is my responsibility to make her have a good nutrition and maintain a good health as well as encouraging safer sex to the time of peak ovulation. This is to reduce re-infection.
One of the ways to prevent mother-to-child transmission of HIV involves a long course of antiretroviral drugs and
avoidance of breastfeeding, which reduces the risk to below 2%. In developed countries ,the number of infant infections has plummeted since this option became available in the mid-1990s.
Since 1999, it has been known that much simpler, inexpensive courses of drugs can also cut mother-to-child transmission rates by at least a half. The most basic of these comprises just two doses of a drug called nevirapine – one given to the mother during labour and the other given to her baby soon after birth. These short-course treatments, combined with safer infant feeding, have the potential to save many tens of thousands of children from HIV infection each year.
However, for the whole robust course of a full ARV regime, opting for elective CS, alternative infant feeding; men’s roles are obviously essential and we MUST be there for our female partners.
It is important to note that as husbands we have a role to play to make the period of pregnancy less stressful for wives and always be there for them and for the union too. In encouraging my wife to consent to elective caesarian section, I continued with such support and was in the theatre by her side when she had her baby.
This is my opinion about men being part of the solution rather than the problem. We played a role in the pregnancy and since we cannot carry it (the pregnancy) we should be responsible enough to support and encourage the woman till she enters the labour room.
If we all agree with this summation, then we can collectively agree that the term PMTCT which is Prevention of Mother To Child Transmission of HIV should be broadened to read PREVENTION OF PARENT TO CHILD TRANSMISSION OF HIV (PPTCT). We all should work for that success as I and my darling wife continues to celebrate the birth of our latest baby born HIV free baby.
Have a pleasant day!