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Updated: February 20, 2014 03:25 IST

Option B Plus to cut risk of perinatal HIV transmission

Vinaya Deshpande
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Three southern States and Maharashtra adopt new drug regimen

To reduce mother-to-child transmission of HIV, three southern States and Maharashtra have adopted a new drug regimen as part of the National AIDS Control Programme.

The new Option B Plus brings down transmission levels from 30 per cent to just two per cent, the World Health Organisation says. Other advantages are the mother need not compulsorily undergo a C-section and she can breastfeed the baby without fear of transmitting the virus.

The Union government last week announced implementation of Option B Plus in India under the fourth phase of the AIDS control programme. States other than Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka and Tamil Nadu have yet to launch it because of inadequate drug stocks and lack of training of the implementation personnel.

“Earlier, HIV-positive mothers had to undergo C-section to avoid transmitting the virus. With this drug regimen, they have the option of a normal delivery. Since the infant is also put on medication, the mother can breastfeed it without fear,” Asha Hegde, Joint Director, Maharashtra State AIDS Control Society, said.

Under Option B Plus, all HIV-positive pregnant women will be put on lifelong anti-retroviral therapy. Previously, the therapy was discontinued once the woman stopped nursing, resulting in immunity to the drug, Dr. Hegde said.

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