Thirty-Four Health Clinics Administering Nevirapine to HIV-Positive Pregnant Women in Zimbabwe
Thirty-four health facilities in Zimbabwe are administering the antiretroviral drug nevirapine to HIV-positive pregnant women to reduce their risk of transmitting HIV to their infants, the Zimbabwe Herald/AllAfrica.com reports. Dr. David Parirenyatwa, Zimbabwe's minister of health and child welfare, told Parliament on Wednesday that although 59 centers had originally qualified to administer the drug, most of them did not in fact have the necessary capacity. "We are still looking at other centers and are trying to determine their capacity to administer the drug. There is a lot of work that has to be done before the drug can be administered, such as counseling the mother who may have the virus," he said. He added that the government is "happy with the progress" made so far, but hopes to make the drug available at most health facilities in the country (Zimbabwe Herald/AllAfrica.com, 9/23).
Knowledge About Nevirapine Limited
Nevirapine is "still shrouded in secrecy" in Zimbabwe, according to a survey conducted by the country's Daily News. Many of the women interviewed by the paper said they knew "little or nothing" about the drug and "shunned" it because of their lack of familiarity. Barbara Dembeza, director of the Women and AIDS Support Network, acknowledged that many women are "resisting" taking the drug, despite the fact that it could help reduce the risk of transmitting HIV to their infants. She said that health centers, which should be responsible for informing women about the drug and its side effects and benefits, are not doing their job. In some instances, health centers did not have any information about the drug, and one center in Pelandaba was claiming to administer the drug but was actually giving women zidovudine, another antiretroviral drug proven to reduce the odds of mother-to-child HIV transmission. Demeza said her group is "embarking on a treatment literacy campaign" at major health centers around the country to allow people to "make informed choices" (Zimbabwe Daily News/AllAfrica.com, 9/23).