LAGOS, Oct. 20 (Xinhuanet) -- The World Health Organization has appealed to countries for placing primary focus on prevention of mother-to-child transmission of HIV to check spread of HIV-AIDS worldwide.
"Since mother-to-child transmission (MTCT) is the most important source of HIV infection in children, it is pertinent that the issue should be given top priority," the WHO said in a statement issued here on Wednesday.
The WHO's directive is an outcome of a meeting convened by the WHO on anti-retroviral drugs and prevention of mother-to-child transmission of HIV infection in resource-limited countries.
It said interventions should focus more on primary prevention of HIV infection among women and their partners and the preventionof HIV transmission from infected women to their children, in addition to the provision of treatment, care and support for womenliving with HIV/AIDS, their children and families.
The report said women could receive ARV drugs during pregnancy as part of potent combination regimens used to treat their HIV infection in infants, saying: "this helps their health and reducesthe risk of MTCT."
According to the report, efforts should be made to ensure that all women who require ARV treatment have access to it.
"ARV treatment for women should be based on their need and eligibility for such treatment," it said.
However, the report said, "ARV regimens for women of child-bearing age should be selected considering the possibility of a planned or unintended pregnancy that ARV drugs may be taken in thefirst trimester of pregnancy or before pregnancy is recognized."
The report noted that triple-combination regimens were widely used in industrialized countries for preventing MTCT in women who did not yet require ARV treatment for their own health.
However, the safety and effectiveness of such regimens have notbeen assessed in resource-constrained settings, it added.
"Information on safety of various ARV regimens shows that short-course regimens are, in general, well tolerated, with few mild andtransient side-effects for the woman and her infant," said the report.
According to a United Nations General Assembly goal, the proportion of infants infected with HIV should be reduced by 20 percent by 2005 and 50 percent by 2010. Enditem