The Tamil Nadu State AIDS Control Society (Tansacs) has begun implementing a new drug regime for Prevention of Parent-to-Child Transmission of HIV/AIDS in Coimbatore.
According to District Programme Manager (District AIDS Prevention Control Unit) B. Mohamed Ali, it was intended to combat the transmission of the virus from anti-natal women to the foetus.
This involved administering a package of three antiretroviral (ARV) drugs from the second trimester of labour, when most fetal development took place, to the Exclusive Breast Feeding period (normally the first six months after delivery).
Immediately after this, two drugs would be given to the women for a ‘tail’ period of one week.
The new ‘maternal triple ARV prophylaxis’ drug regimen was implemented for HIV positive pregnant women whose CD4 (cell differentiation) count was above 350.
CD4 cells are white blood cells that sent signals to other types of immune cells. If it got depleted due to untreated HIV infection, the body was left vulnerable to other infections also. Normally, the CD4 count must be in the range of 800 to 1,200 cells.
Anti-natal women with CD4 count below 350 will come under the regular treatment given at anti-retro viral therapy (ART) centres.
For the newborn babies, he said that an ARV syrup would be administered on a daily basis from the time of delivery till six weeks, at which point cotrimazle prophylaxis treatment and immunisation from all infections would be done.
Cotrimazle prophylaxis treatment was to protect the infant from opportunistic infections such as diarrhoea, cold and acute respiratory infections.
After this, Early Infant Diagnosis would be performed at end of six weeks and again after 18 months to ascertain if the baby was from free from HIV.
Under the earlier system, Dr. Mohamed Ali said that a single ARV drug was administered to the anti-natal women at the third stage of labour. The newborn was given an ARV syrup within 48 hours of delivery.
In Coimbatore, he said that new multi-drug treatment was being administered for the last two months.
Of the 50 women being treated through the two ART centres in the district, the new drug regimen was being administered to ten patients.
“The ultimate aim to make the newborn a ‘VIP’ child (vaccinated, immunised and protected),” he added.
The Tansacs has launched a new initiative to screen People Living with HIV/AIDS (PLHIV) in Coimbatore for cervical cancer.
Mr. Mohamed Ali, such people were prone to health problems because of their lower immunity levels. The first camp under this project was held last week at the Coimbatore Medical College Hospital (CMCH) in which ten persons were screened.
Their reports would be available in about two weeks.
Another camp would be held on Friday at Kavundampalayam in the Presitha Community Centre in collaboration with the Oncology Department of the Sri Ramakrishna Hospital.
Dr. Mohamed Ali said that such camps were being held to protect both the child and the mother. Those found positive would be provided treatment.