‘The life of the HIV positive mother would also be prolonged’

The Andhra Pradesh State AIDS Control Society (APSACS) has set 2015 as the target to make the State free of HIV positive children. The APSACS Project Director C. Parthasarathi addressing the Krishna district advocacy session on HIV and AIDS here on Wednesday said that the Government would be spending relatively huge amount (over Rs.1 lakh per mother and child) under a new scheme called MAMATA Plus. But under the scheme the HIV positive child should be administered, without missing even once, a spoon of medicine. This would ensure that the baby does not grow into a HIV positive child.

The life of the HIV positive mother would also be prolonged by 15 to 20 years, Mr. Parthasarathi said. But, the Auxiliary Nurse Midwifes (ANMs) who had to implement the scheme should do it with commitment. If the medication was not administered properly the child would become HIV positive and eventually die, so negligence was tantamount to murder, he pointed out.

After a heated debate experts decided that it was alright for the HIV positive mothers to breastfeed the babies that were being administered medication. Virus spreads to the baby through the mother’s milk, but the daily medication would kill it. Mother’s milk was necessary to the baby because it strengthened the immunity of the child, he said.

Screening

For the scheme to be totally successful every pregnant woman should be screened for HIV. While there were 16 lakh pregnancies per annum on an average in the State only 11 lakh women could be screened last year. Screening of all pregnant women for HIV was the target for 2013, he said.

In Andhra Pradesh the prevalence of HIV among pregnant women had gone down from 1.25 per cent in 2004 to one per cent in 2010. But this was higher than the State average of 0.77 per cent.

Mr. Parthasarathi said that Krishna district with two national highways passing through and a large floating population, ranked fourth in the State in HIV prevalence.

However, the result of up-scaling of the services was tremendous in the district. Last November, 9,555 PLHIVs (people living with HIV) were receiving ART medicines in Krishna district, compared to the 2,499 PLHIVs who availed the services in January 2008. Referrals of positive cases from Integrated Counselling and Testing Centres (ICTCs) to ART had improved tremendously.