-P Srinivasan I email@example.com
Jaipur: In India, birth of HIV-infected children is coming down but still a long way to go. Services for Prevention of Parent-to-Child Transmission (PPTCT) and antiretroviral therapy (ART) have been increased in the country, but still a large number of HIV-infected children are born every year.
According to the National AIDS Control Organisation (NACO) data there were 8702 children up to 14 years were diagnosed HIV positive in 2015-16, which came down to 7939 in 2016-17 and to 7232 in 2017-18. Maharashtra has the maximum of 1065 children up to 14 years diagnosed HIV positive, while Andaman and Nicobar Islands has nil children.
The Prevention of Parent to Child Transmission of HIV/AIDS (PPTCT) programme was launched in the country in the year 2002, says the NACO website, The PPTCT programme aims to prevent the perinatal transmission of HIV from an HIV infected pregnant mother to her newborn baby. The programme entails counselling and testing of pregnant women in the Integrated Counselling and Testing Centres (ICTCs).
Experts say that early diagnosis is the only way to reduce the number of children born with HIV. HIV can be transmitted from an HIV-infected woman to her child during pregnancy, childbirth and breastfeeding. The chances of virus passing from mother to child is 15%-45% if mother is not taking any treatment, while risk gets reduced to less 5% if the mother is on ART.
Brijesh Dubey, president of Global Alliance for Human Rights (GAHR), an NGO working for people living with HIV positive said that people have to be made aware about HIV/AIDS and it should be seen that all pregnant women are tested for HIV so that no child is born with this infection.
He also said that many NGOs are working in the field of HIV/AIDS in Rajasthan and Rajasthan State AIDS Control Society (RSACS) should keep a strict watch on them and social audit of these NGOs should be done who are getting funds to work in this field.
Dr Pradeep Choudhary, joint director RSACS said early diagnosis is the only way to reduce children born with HIV infection. All pregnant mothers do not come for antenatal care (ANC) and many come at the last stage. All pregnant women should be brought for ANC and they should be counselled to get HIV test done, he added.