Cape Town — The Health Systems Trust (HST) has called on health authorities to make a greater effort to provide abortion services to HIV-positive pregnant women, saying they have been largely neglected.
"The HIV sector has been very treatment focused and rightly so, but abortion has fallen through the gaps," said HST senior researcher Marion Stevens. The HST is a non- profit organisation focused on health policy and research.
Stevens said few HIV-positive pregnant women were offered the choice of terminating an unwanted pregnancy. Clinic services usually only give women information about ways to prevent the transmission of HIV to their babies and maintain a healthy pregnancy, she said.
HIV-positive pregnant women needed to be better informed about their reproductive options and more work was needed to be done to integrate HIV treatment and termination of pregnancy services.
She said women's access to abortion services is set to come under the spotlight later this month, when provinces are expected to begin holding public hearings on amendments to the 1996 Choice on Termination of Pregnancy Act.
This follows last September's Constitutional Court ruling that Parliament had failed to conduct adequate public consultation when it passed amendments to the a ct.
T he court said these changes to the law would be nullified unless Parliament conducted public consultations within 18 months.
Stevens said the act had seen a 91% decline in deaths from abortion-related causes in the three years following its implementation in 2003.