By prevention of mother to child transmission (PMTCT) of HIV we mean the set of interventions designed to reduce the transmission of HIV from HIV-infected pregnant women to their babies. Although HIV testing and counselling before pregnancy is important, you should always bear in mind that antenatal care may provide the first opportunity for testing and counselling women in your community regarding HIV. You should consider PMTCT as an essential component of focused antenatal care, as you learned in Study Session 13. It is an entry point for care and support not only for HIV-infected pregnant women, but also for their partners and newborn babies. Moreover, it will contribute to the attainment of the nationally shared Ethiopian vision of an 'HIV-free generation by the year 2020'.
It is Ethiopian national policy to aim to test all pregnant women who give their informed consent. Informed consent means consent given by a person who is being offered medical testing or treatment, and who understands the risks and benefits of the procedures being offered. Even if the facilities and training to achieve the target of 100% of pregnant women HIV tested at Health Post level are not yet available, you need to know about HIV testing, and what treatment will be provided for HIV-infected women. This is so you can explain to them what will happen if they agree to be tested. We should emphasise that it is essential for pregnant women to give informed consent.