M. Dinesh Varma

CHENNAI: The campaign against HIV/AIDS in the State is invoking a stricter gynaecological vigil to check the mother-to-child transmission of the virus.

Tamil Nadu, which has brought down the prevalence of the infection to less than 0.5 per cent from the 1.13 per cent six years ago, is pursuing the twin missions —within a broader battle—of eradicating vertical transmission of the virus and propagating ‘zero discrimination’ against HIV/AIDS patients.

Globally, the risk of mother-to-child transmission is 30 per cent, failing any intervention. Officials of the Tamil Nadu State AIDS Control Society said that under a strengthened ante-natal monitoring, counsellors across 760 centres were persuading every expecting mother to undergo HIV testing. Under the prevention of parent to child transmission of HIV (PPCT) campaign last year, nearly seven lakh mothers were sensitised to the primary prevention of HIV through counselling.

Of an estimated 6.50 lakh mothers who underwent testing, about 2,700 tested HIV positive. According to the data available with the Society, there are 3,000 children who have registered themselves for the anti-retroviral treatment. However, the completion of the HIV portraiture will require piecing together of inputs from the private sector, where 45 per cent of the deliveries take place.

An estimated 11.5 lakh deliveries take place in the State annually, with 55 per cent handled by the State-run hospitals. “The focus is on providing every HIV mother a minimum package of services, from ante-natal counselling through CD 4 testing and ART intervention where indicated,” said Supriya Sahu, Society Project Director. The Society is dinning into gynaecologists the importance of CD 4 testing of HIV mothers to devise the ideal treatment plan. It is important to counsel mothers on choosing either exclusive breastfeeding, or an affordable alternative practice, as a combination of the two methods increases the risk of disease transmission, said G. Manoharan, attached to the International Training and Education Centre on HIV functioning at the Hospital for Thoracic Medicine, Tambaram.