Poor access to antiretroviral medication and suboptimal uptake of antenatal HIV testing may lead to an imminent epidemic of HIV infection in children in Pacific Island countries, according to New Zealand researchers. The prevalence of HIV in Papua New Guinea has increased rapidly over the past decade to greater than 150 per 100 000, whereas the disease has been less widespread in other Pacific Island countries and territories. A survey of the region’s health care workers reveals that access to HIV antibody testing was limited to sexual health clinics and hospitals and that approximately half of the Pacific Island countries had a national policy recommending routine testing of pregnant women for HIV. Perinatal prophylaxis for HIV was not readily available in PNG until 2005, and several countries had no protocols in place to treat maternal HIV.
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