15% of Lesotho Infants HIV-Positive, Report Says
An estimated 15% of infants in Lesotho are born HIV-positive or contract the virus soon after birth, according to a report released on Wednesday by the Lesotho government and UNICEF, the SAPA/Business Day reports. The report, which is a mid-term review of the government and UNICEF's 2002-2007 joint program, also said that an infant born to an HIV-positive woman in Lesotho has a 25% to 35% chance of contracting HIV during delivery or through breastfeeding. Lesotho also has an increasing number of abandoned and institutionalized children, including newborns, according to the report. Many abandoned newborns also test HIV-positive, which is "an indication that there is inadequate information on prevention of mother-to-child transmission or parents are reluctant to avail themselves for the services that are available to prevent mother-to-child transmission," according to the report. About 90,000 children under the age of 18 in Lesotho have lost one or both parents to AIDS-related causes, according to the report, the SAPA/Business Day reports. The country's child mortality rate declined in the 1980s and early 1990s, but it began increasing in late 1990s because of several factors, including high HIV/AIDS prevalence and a decrease in funding for immunizations, diarrhea-related disease prevention and nutrition interventions, the report says. About 10% of children in Lesotho die before they are five years old, according to the report (SAPA/Business Day, 11/10).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.