SA 'winning war' against HIV in babies

02 April 2012 - 02:28 By NEO BODUMELA and SAPA
Baby feet. File photo.
Baby feet. File photo.
Image: Gallo Images/Thinkstock

The rate of HIV infection in newborn babies has fallen by more than half in Gauteng, the provincial department of health said yesterday.

"The Gauteng department of health has reduced the number of infection in babies by more than half, from 11.6% to 2.3% through implementation of health services for pregnant women," said spokesman Simon Zwane.

He said the reduction in the infection rate was due in part to a department campaign that "encourages expectant mothers to attend antenatal classes so that complications are detected in the early stages of pregnancy".

It comes as the department head of obstetrics at Dora Nginza Hospital in the Eastern Cape has hailed a drop in maternal deaths.

A report compiled by the National Committee for Confidential Enquiries into Maternal Deaths found that the maternal death rate of the Eastern Cape was halved between 2002 and 2007.

Dr Mfundo Mbenge said rigorous training of staff and management was a key reason for success.

"We started aggressively screening hypertension in pregnant women and where we have found them to have symptoms of the disease we give them aspirin and calcium to prevent the disease," he said.