Staff Reporter

PUDUCHERRY: The programme for prevention of parent-to-child transmission of HIV should be intensified so that no child is born HIV positive, Member of Parliament and president of Forum of Parliamentarians on HIV/AIDS Oscar Fernandes said on Tuesday.

Speaking at the launch of the Puducherry Legislators' Forum on HIV/AIDS, Mr. Fernandes said treatment for pregnant mothers to prevent transmission of HIV to newborns is a major problem.

“It will be criminal if we are not able to detect HIV in pregnant women at the right time. In northeastern States, the percentage of institutional deliveries is about 12 to 20 per cent. The remaining deliveries are at home with no chance of checking if the pregnant women carry the virus or not,” he said.

Noting that testing pregnant mothers on time would save children, he said, “I feel that our programme of testing pregnant women for HIV/AIDS before delivery has to be intensified.

“The number of persons affected by HIV/AIDS in Puducherry may not be as projected. According to information I receive, people from States where HIV is highly prevalent, are visiting Puducherry for treatment. Tourists and people affected by HIV/AIDS coming here makes the Union Territory vulnerable. There is a need to be cautious,” he said.

With awareness being the key to prevent the spread of HIV/AIDS, Mr. Fernandes said, “If we control the virus, the health of the State improves.”

Mr. Fernandes said that the Union and State governments gear up to the need of the hour.