Why HIV/AIDS test must be free for pregnant women


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Mr Ikenna Nwakamma, 1st Co Chairman, Coalition of Civil Society Network on HIV/AIDS in Nigeria (CCSNHAN) on Saturday called for compulsory HIV test for pregnant women in all hospitals.

Nwakamma told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) that imposition of user fees by healthcare providers was responsible for staggered HIV screening of pregnant women.

He explained that about 60 per cent of healthcare delivery in Nigeria was through the private health providers.

“We have been telling everyone that HIV test is free; we forget that it is only free in few places.

“Because of user fee imposed on the test, the women who cannot afford the test will not get it,” Nwakamma said.

He expressed worry that a good number of women in the country had been left un-screened before labour because of user fees.

According to him, even in some supported health facilities, pregnant women are asked to pay for these tests and that affects access and uptake of the services by them.

Nwakamma also blamed the problem on the patronage of traditional birth attendants by some pregnant women.

He expressed fears over continued spread of the virus if testing for pregnant women was not made compulsory in all hospitals irrespective of class, status and location.

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