ARVs for breastfeeding mums
Huge challenges ahead in fight against AIDS
Prasada Rao, director of UNAIDS Asia Pacific regional support team, and other experts, kicking off a four-day meeting at an HIV/AIDS conference said that while progress has been made in research and getting people treated for AIDS, huge challenges lie ahead and much more needs to be done.

"All this progress is not meaningful if we don't address the stigma and discrimination in this region. Young children (whether infected themselves or have family members who are infected) or are still being evicted from schools," Rao told the conference.

"This must change. Without this, progress is not possible," he added.

More treatment and money needed

The conference also heard strong calls for more access to treatment. Women and children were particularly left out of the loop, experts said.
"We are supposed to be achieving universal access by 2010. We are not going to make these goals particularly in treatment, said David Cooper, professor of medicine and director at the National Center in HIV Epidemiology and Clinical Research in Sydney.

Although about 3 million people were receiving drugs to control HIV by the end of 2007, or nearly 950,000 more compared with the end of 2006, only 31 percent of people who were in need of drugs were getting them.

Cooper said children and pregnant women in low and middle-income countries need better and adequate drugs.

"There is incontrovertible new evidence that treating women with antiretroviral therapy in pregnancy and during their breastfeeding period will almost eliminate HIV infection in their infants."

"But we are not getting access to these women and we are not treating them with proper antiretroviral therapy. We are just giving them single-dose drugs," Cooper said.

Do you think breastfeeding women should be taking ARV's?

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