J.S. Ifthekhar

APSACS planning to rope in corporate hospitals in AIDS prevention

Hyderabad: With a view to extend HIV prevention, care and treatment services to a large number of population, the A.P. State Aids Control Society (APSACS) has proposed to rope in private hospitals and nursing homes in a big way. An exercise is on to set up 150 Integrated Counselling and Testing Centres (ICTCs) in private medical facilities under the public private partnership model.

Of the 150 ICTCs, 60 will be exclusively for Prevention of Parent to Child Transmission (PPTCT). A MoU will be shortly signed with the private service providers with the active involvement of AP AIDSCON, a consortium of private medical colleges in the State, A.P. Nursing Homes Association and IMA.

“The whole idea is to increase access to 24x7 ICTCs through scaling up services in private hospitals and nursing homes,” said R.V. Chandravadan, project director, APSACS.

Attention is sought to be paid more on the PPTCT since HIV infection among children below 15 years is as high as 90 per cent due to vertical transmission from infected mothers during intrauterine life, labour and breastfeeding. Every year 16 lakh deliveries take place and about 14,000 children are born to positive mothers in the State. “Without intervention 30 per cent of these children would become positive,” Mr. Chandravadan said.

At present the State has 677 ICTCs, including 105 PPTCT centres and 24 ART centres. But they cater to mere 37.5 per cent of anti-natal care (ANC) population. Interestingly, 60 per cent of the deliveries occur in private hospitals where the HIV prevention and treatment facilities are non existent. Now through 60 PPTCT centres in private sector it is planned to reach 36,000 ANCs annually.

Under the PPP model, the APSACS will provide logistic support like HIV test kits and disposable delivery kits. There will also be technical support in terms of capacity building, regular monitoring and evaluation. This is in addition to the package of consumables essential for the programme. Only such maternity or nursing homes will be selected for PPTCT services which conduct more than 50 deliveries per month.

The mainstreaming of private medical facilities is also considered essential as the testing charges here are exorbitant. Also many hospitals are skipping the HIV Comb AIDS and straightaway conducting the HIV rapid test, contrary to the national blood policy, it is said.