Alarm raised as cases of mother-to-child HIV transmission rise

More than 230 babies in Gauteng were born with HIV in the first half of the year, despite the fact that drugs to stop the virus from being passed from mother to child have been available for more than 25 years.

Of those HIV-infected newborn babies, 40 were born in the district of Tshwane.

The Tshwane health department’s Melanie Langeveldt expressed concern over the recent discovery of 12 infants who tested positive for HIV.


“Each baby that tests positive for the virus is one too many, and so what we would like to request is that pregnant mothers visit our clinics as soon as possible so that we can do HIV testing,” said Langeveldt.

“After the testing, if required, we will put the mother on antiretroviral [ARV] therapy.”

She stated that if a patient who is on ARV forgets to take their medication, they need to go for therapy.

Treatment not taken as prescribed

She raised concerns that even though there is more information about preventing infants from getting infected, they still have records of newborn babies who are HIV positive.

“If a patient misses taking their medication, it places them at risk, and one of the factors that we see when we investigate the babies that test positive is that treatment is not taken as it is prescribed,” she added.

Despite these numbers, Langeveldt clarified that the HIV prevalence for infants testing positive is less than the annual performance plan targets.


“We are not showing an increase, but what we are saying is that we are concerned because there is continued mother-to-child transmission, and that is what we want to lessen.

“Our plea to the community is that they come to the clinic to present early, continue taking medication as prescribed, and there are other preventative plans that are also in place, and we have already shared those with the community members.”

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