Only four out of 131 treated by PSI test positive
When twenty-eight-year-old Lakshmi (name changed) tested positive for the pregnancy test, the happiness of bearing a child after six years of marriage to Srinivas (not real name), an autorickshaw driver, was diminished by the thought of transmitting a deadly virus to the unborn.
Both Lakshmi and Srinivas were carriers of the HIV and they feared that the child would be infected by it. Ignorant of the advancement in the medical sciences in this area, the couple decided to terminate the pregnancy, as they were sure that the child will be born with the virus. “Who would take care of an infected child after our death? Even my parents would reject the child. With this thought, we decided on the termination, until we met the outreach workers from PSI (Population Services International),” says Lakshmi.
The PSI representative talked about their ‘YRG-CARE Connect Project' on Prevention of Parent to Child Transmission (PPTCT) and made the couple understand that through proper care and treatment of the mother the transmission can be prevented. PSI's Area Programme Manager G.K.V. Ravi Chandra informed that mother-to-child transmission of the virus has been categorised under the high risk groups along with other high risk groups like FSW (female sex workers), IDU (injecting drug users) and MSM (men having sex with men).
“The chances of transmission from an infected mother to a child are tagged under three instances: In the womb, during delivery and by breast feeding. Careful monitoring of the case, timely treatment and administration of Nevirapine to the mother before the labour pains and one dose to the new born immediately after birth can reduce the possibility by a huge margin. A mother is put under ART (antiretroviral) drugs during the pregnancy period if the CD4 count is less than 200,” informed Ravi Chandra.
PSI has tied up with St. Anns Hospital, Malkapuram, for its PPTCT programme and so far has treated 131 infected cases. “Only four out of 131 cases have tested positive. The prevalence rate has significantly dropped from 33 to 3 per cent,” said PSI's VCT/STI Manager K. Srikanth.
Unlike in earlier days when one had to wait for 18 months to assess the status of the virus in a new born, PSI has acquired the DNAPCR kit with support from HPCL. “With this we can detect the virus immediately after birth,” said Srikanth.
Lakshmi and Srinivas are among the fortunate to have a healthy baby and today it is one-year-old. “We know that we are reaching our end, but we are assured that our child is free of the virus and will be taken care of by our parents and family members after our death,” said Lakskmi.