As many as 25,957 pregnant women had undergone voluntary HIV testing in the first 10 months of the calendar year, said a release issued by the District AIDS Prevention and Control Unit (DAPCU), Coimbatore.

Of those, the 17 women who tested positive were asked by the DAPCU to get linked to ‘Prevention of Parent to Child Transmission Programme’ (PPTCT) to ensure that they did not transfer the virus to the foetus. To reduce the transmission rate from mother to child, the DAPCU had launched the PPTCT to engage the pregnant women from the third month of pregnancy. The programme would continue till the breastfeeding stage was completed.

For the newborns the treatment would continue for six months.

The release said that there were 5,524 persons with HIV in the district and they received free anti-retroviral therapy through the ART centres in the Coimbatore Medical College Hospital. The DAPCU had recently opened another ART centre at the Government Hospital in Pollachi to increase access to persons with HIV in those parts of the district.

In Coimbatore City, the Rotaract Club of Kovai Evergreen organised a walkathon at Race Course attended by hundreds of people. The walkathon was flagged off and led by J. Balavenkat, President of the club, Kavidasan, Director, Roots Industries, E.S. Kathir, Chairman of Kathir Institutions and Dr. Mahadevan.

In addition to the two ART centres, there were three link ART centres in Valparai Government Hospital, Karamadai Primary Health Centre, and at the Coimbatore Central Prison.

Plus, there were 24 integrated counselling and testing centres that provided free counselling and testing for HIV. The DAPCU had also formed 143 Red Ribbon Clubs in as many colleges to reach out to young people. There were 14,300 student-volunteers.

To further increase the awareness, the DAPCU had organised a rally on Sunday on the World AIDS Day. Around 500 persons participated in the rally, which District Collector Archana Patanaik flagged off. It had also conducted painting, oratorical, essay writing and other competitions for school students.

In Tirupur, the District AIDS Prevention and Control Unit conducted a special awareness campaign. “We are now focusing on the theme ‘Getting to zero: zero new HIV infections, zero discrimination and zero AIDS-related deaths’ by improving access to prevention, treatment and care to vulnerable people,” said S. Subramaniam, district programme manager of District AIDS Prevention and Control Unit.

“We are having 21 Integrated Counselling and Testing Centres in the district. For Anti-Retroviral Therapy, there is one ART centre in Tirupur city and five link-ART centres in Avinashi, Palladam, Udumalpet, Kangayam and Dharapuram,” he added.

During the day, an awareness rally was taken out by the students and people from different walks of life in the city.

In Namakkal, a total of 61,533 persons were tested for HIV/AIDS this year and 571 of them were found to be positive. Among the 15,288 pregnant women who underwent test, 31 were found positive”, Namakkal District Collector V. Dakshinamoorthy said.

He was addressing the gathering at an AIDS awareness programme held here on Sunday.

The observance began with an awareness rally that was flagged off from the District Head Quarters Government Hospital in Namakkal by Mr. Dakshinamoorthy.

More than 750 students of various education institutions and Red Cross volunteers took part in the rally. The Collector also kick-started a signature campaign to create awareness on HIV/AIDS.

Prizes distributed

Prizes were distributed to school and college students who emerged winners in the elocution competition that was organised as part of the World AIDS Day observance.

The Collector and other officials had lunch with persons affected by HIV/AIDS. Deputy Director of Health Services B.R. Jemini and others took part in the events.

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