A KwaZulu-Natal woman has unknowingly been giving anti-retroviral treatment to her two-year-old daughter, who is HIV-negative, on the orders of a nurse from St Mary’s Hospital.
The 24-year-old woman, who wishes to remain anonymous, said her daughter started taking the ARV treatment from the day she was born. She said a nurse from St Mary’s gave her the drugs on the day she was discharged from the hospital and impressed upon her that they had to be given to the baby.
“She never explained anything, she just gave me medication without telling me what it was for and I gave it to my baby unknowingly,” she said.
After three weeks of giving her baby the medication, she noticed that she had developed “breasts” the size of a girl entering puberty. She later discovered she had been giving her baby ARVs the whole time.
“We went to the clinic and they told us that they needed to check the baby’s CD4 count as well as the effects of the ARV treatment.
“That was when we found out that, according to medical records, the baby was born HIV-positive and given ARVs from birth,” she said.
The mother was alarmed as she had had numerous HIV tests and was HIV-negative. She had also taken her daughter for a test and the results proved she was also negative.
A doctor and expert in HIV-related issues, Bongani Nxumalo, said ARVs had strong contents which were highly dangerous to babies. “The treatment can harm the liver, cause a change in skin colour, a runny tummy, body sores and cause a person to vomit,” he said. The mistake could be rectified if the ARV treatment was stopped immediately. “The problem can be solved by taking medication to cleanse the blood system as well as by eating healthy food.”
A spokesperson for the hospital, Gugu Mtshali, said the hospital could not comment as the case was under investigation. Health Professions Council of SA member Lize Nel said the council could only deal with the matter once the parent had put forward a formal complaint. The nurse could face severe consequences.
Independent on Saturday