“In 1998, HIV was something hiding. No one was talking about it,” says Dr. Christiane Adje-Toure, Laboratory Director of RETRO-CI and Laboratory Branch Chief of CDC-Cote d’Ivoire. Indeed, fear and stigma were huge hurdles in the HIV epidemic, with Cote d’Ivoire having one of the highest prevalence rates in West Africa. Timely diagnosis, followed by prompt treatment and care, was especially challenging for patients living in regions without the necessary infrastructure, diagnostics, and resources to transport specimens to the central testing facilities based in Abidjan. The risk for mortality among HIV positive infants grows with each passing day the infant goes without treatment. “By the time the results arrived, we would look for the mother, and the child had died the day before, or the week before, because it took us a month or two months before we get the results,” Dr. Yacouba Doumbia, Health Alliance International’s Technical Advisor for Preventing Mother to Child Transmission (PMTCT).

Published in Around the World