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Sharp decline in HIV positive deliveries

J.S. Ifthekhar

Hyderabad: There is a significant drop of HIV infection among children born to HIV positive mothers in the State. The prevalence rate has come down from 2.5 per cent in 2004 to one per cent now and it is set to further slide to .5 per cent.

This turnaround is very noteworthy considering the fact that Andhra Pradesh figures high among the AIDS affected States. It is largely the mainstreaming of hospitals in the private sector in combating the AIDS menace that has resulted in prevention of parent to child transmission.

Denial of service, exploitation and stigma is widespread in private hospitals and nursing homes when it comes to treatment of HIV positive pregnant women. But now the resistance is gradually breaking down after the A.P. State AIDS Control Society did some sensitisation and roped in their services under public private partnership.

Tripartite agreement

Such an initiative has not been taken by any other State. A tripartite agreement is also signed by APSACS with private hospitals and the technical partners.

Now in addition to the 677 counselling and testing centres of APSACS, the facility is also available at 207 private hospitals. By year-end, another 200 hospitals may join the fight against AIDS. “It can't remain a vertical programme anymore. Integration of private sector is essential since it accounts for 50 per cent of deliveries in the State,” says R.V. Chandravadan, Director, APSACS.

Statistics show that annually, 18 lakh pregnancies take place in the State. Of this 18,000 are HIV positive pregnancies. And if no intervention is done about 5,400 children will be born with HIV infection.

During the last one year, the APSACS reached 64,258 pregnant women along with the private hospitals and identified 190 positive cases. Of the positive deliveries, 187 live births took place.

Preventive measures

The HIV positive women are given Nevirapine tablet at the time of delivery which helps reduce the viral load in mothers. And this in turn, reduces the chances of the virus infecting the child. “Soon after birth, the newborns are given the Nevirapine syrup”, said Dr. P.L. Jayachandra Reddy, joint director, APSACS.

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