In talking to a woman after a positive HIV test result, you should be very sensitive to her feelings, which may include shock, anger or denial. When she is able to take in your health education messages, make sure that she understands:
- The importance of delivering her baby in a higher health facility where ARP drugs are available and safe delivery methods are practised, to prevent MTCT of HIV.
- She can reduce the risk of becoming ill by:
- Taking ART as prescribed and medicines to prevent opportunistic infections from developing
- Practising safe sex by using a condom with her partner to protect him from HIV infection, and to ensure she doesn't get any other sexually transmitted infections (STIs) from him if he has unsafe sex with anyone else
- Eating enough nutritious food, as recommended for all pregnant women regardless of HIV status (see Study Session 14)
- Having good personal hygiene, as recommended for everyone to prevent infections with bacteria, viruses, protozoa and fungi, infestations with parasites and insects, and skin disorders.
- How to prevent MTCT of HIV to her baby (as you learned in this study session) including safe ways of feeding the baby (as you will learn in the Module on Integrated Management of Newborn and Childhood Illness).
- That the woman's partner or husband and children should be tested for HIV.
- The importance of preventing HIV transmission to others and ways to do this.
- The importance of referrals for follow-up and ongoing HIV healthcare for herself, her partner, her HIV-exposed baby and other family members.
Opportunistic infections are infections caused by bacteria or viruses in people whose immune systems are weakened, for instance by HIV. A healthy person would normally be able to fight off infections by these bacteria or viruses.