Scale up the linking of sexual and reproductive health and HIV, using prevention of mother to child programmes as a key entry point to strengthen maternal, newborn and child health services and expand access to a wider range of sexual and reproductive health services.
Rationale: The majority of HIV infections are sexually transmitted or are associated with pregnancy, childbirth and breastfeeding; and the risk of HIV transmission and acquisition can be further increased due to the presence of certain sexually transmitted infections (STIs). Prevention of mother to child transmission (PMTCT) is a key proven entry point for strengthening both HIV services and maternal, newborn and child health (MNCH) services. However, these two programmes frequently tend to run in parallel, missing the opportunities to ensure more women and their partners have access to a wide range of sexual and reproductive and HIV-related services, including family planning and unintended pregnancies among HIV positive women.
Current gaps to address:
- Make better use of proven strategies: Stakeholders in the response must significantly intensify their efforts to prevent new infections by making better use of proven strategies. Stakeholders should make a solid commitment to ending paediatric HIV transmission; promoting early infant diagnosis; and optimising the health of mothers living with HIV and their families.
- Optimize integrated services: To ensure that HIV services are effective and properly delivered within an MNCH setting, there is a need to better understand how to ensure that services can be effectively integrated in resource-poor settings and reach out to poor and marginalized women, especially those living in rural and remote areas.
- Putting women at the centre of PMTCT programmes: Women need to be put at the centre of any PMTCT programme by promoting primary prevention among women of reproductive age and encouraging women to know their HIV status. There also needs to be increased attention to the contraceptive methods and family planning options offered to women living with HIV.
- Involve male partners: While most interventions have been focusing on ensuring women access to health care during the time of pregnancy, more needs to be been done to involve their male partners in health-related decisions. Increasing male involvement in PMTCT services may increase the chances of male partners practicing safer sex with, and providing support to their female partner when they learn their HIV status.
Read all of IPPF's key messages for the 2011 UN High Level Meeting on AIDS in the June issue of the HIV Update newsletter: http://www.ippf.org/en/Resources/Newsletters/HIV+Update+Issue+26.htm