Pediatric Infectious Disease Specialist Dr. Avinash K. Shetty
Â Â Dr. Avinash Shetty, a pediatric infectious disease specialist at Brenner Children's Hospital, visits Harare, Zimbabwe four times each year.
educates women on how HIV
is transmitted, hoping to prevent further spread of this global epidemic.
Zimbabwe has one of the highest HIV prevalence rates in the world.
A third of Zimbabwe's HIV-infected population is pregnant women who pass the virus to their infants during pregnancy, at the time of labor and delivery, and through breastfeeding.
Through community mobilization, education and research Dr. Shetty hopes to stop the spread of the disease and provide new, cost-effective preventive regimens to prevent mother-to-child transmission of HIV
in Zimbabwe, including breast milk transmission.
"Overall, breastfeeding accounts for 33-50% of HIV transmission in infants," Dr. Shetty
"We know that 75% of breast milk transmission of the AIDS virus occur during the first 4-6 months of a baby's life," Shetty
"Each month that an HIV-infected mother breastfeeds her
infant increases the chance that the baby will test positive for HIV
Developing safe and effective strategies for reducing the risk of breast milk transmission during the first 4-6 months of life and making breastfeeding "safer" in these infants is a pressing research issue.
However significant barriers to effective HIV/AIDS prevention and care exist.
"New moms don't want to be tested to see if they are HIV positive," Shetty
"They fear being ostracized from their families and often are beaten by their husbands if they test positive for the virus."
"Another barrier to treatment is the cost of current medications," Dr. Shetty
research team see over 10,000 women each year - a third or more are pregnant women who are HIV positive.