The minister said many pregnant women with HIV do not go antenatal care.
The Minister of State for Health, Mohammed Pate, has urged pregnant women living with HIV to go for antenatal care to prevent mother-to-child transmission.
Mr. Pate gave the advice in an interview in Lagos on the sideline of a symposium entitled: “Humanitarian Disaster Risk Management: A Case Study of Flooding in Nigeria”.
The symposium was organised by the Nigerian Institute of Medical Research (NIMR), Yaba, Lagos.
The minister spoke against the backdrop of the United Nations AIDS programme report released on June 25.
The report said that Nigeria has the largest number of children acquiring HIV in the region, with nearly 60,000 new infections in 2012. It also stated that seven countries in sub-Saharan Africa had cut the number of new HIV infections in children by 50 per cent since 2009.
According to the report, the dramatic reductions were recorded in Botswana, Ethiopia, Ghana, Malawi, Namibia, South Africa and Zambia.
The minister, however, expressed worry that most infected women were not going for antenatal care where they could be tested and given proper medication.
Mr. Pate advised women to go for test and regular antenatal care during pregnancy, adding that early detection would prevent the transmission of the virus.
“At the hospitals, drugs will be given to prevent mothers from transmitting the virus to their babies, because no child should be denied of that opportunity.
“I know it will take us some time to achieve this, but, I know we will get there someday,” he added.
Mr. Pate said that the Federal Government had in October 2012 launched “Saving one Million lives” initiative to accelerate reduction in HIV infection in babies.
“Preventing mother-to-child transmission has taken us a while to curb, but, we continue to scale up our intervention programmes.
“We have been going from state to state to advocate and talk to government of states to improve their intervention programmes in terms of awareness and availability of drugs,” he said.