144 babies, born to women with HIV, have been delivered free of the disease thanks to the success of NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde’s HIV antenatal screening programme.
The success of the programme is proof that screening programmes can work with 144 newborn babies, who might otherwise have suffered serious illness, now living healthy lives.
Mums diagnosed as HIV positive either through the routine screening programme or are known HIV cases are given the appropriate treatment early in the pregnancy which greatly minimises the chances of the baby contracting HIV and as a result their babies have been born without HIV having being transmitted from the mother.
The mums are referred to a designated consultant at the specialist obstetric unit at the Princess Royal Maternity and to the HIV clinic based at the Brownlee Centre. Further tests are carried out to establish the appropriate treatment required and then regular monitoring and support is given over the remainder of the pregnancy. This involves a multidisciplinary team including HIV specialists, paediatric and obstetric staff, and public health staff.
Dr Val Patton, HIV Lead Clinician, Brownlee Centre for Communicable Disease, Gartnavel General Hospital, says carrying out HIV screening during pregnancy is saving babies lives.
She added: "All pregnant women living in Greater Glasgow and Clyde are routinely offered screening for HIV. Uptake is a successful 98% and while the numbers diagnosed with HIV are small, the impact is huge.
"Over the last seven year we've managed to deliver 144 babies whose mothers have been diagnosed HIV positive but transfer to the babies has been avoided. This has been achieved through a combination of drugs, which are tailored to each individual mum, continual monitoring and positive support from the team.”
Dr Emilia Crighton, NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde’s Consultant in Public Health Medicine, is in charge of the screening programme and says not everyone realises how important screening can be.
She added: “The HIV antenatal screening programme is one of many that can save and improve the quality of lives and 144 healthy babies proves that screening programmes can work.”
The programme not only supports and monitors women during pregancy but both mum and baby are monitored after the birth. As breastfeeding is not recommended support is also given to the mums through a free formula milk scheme for those on low incomes.
NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde is now focused on encouraging more HIV patients, especially couples, to attend the pre-conception clinic which offers individualised advice on conception and general information on pregnancy planning.
For further information either telephone 0141 201 4429 or email [email protected].