35 children get tested for HIV

Staff Correspondent

Mothers of most of these children are commercial sex workers

Chitradurga: “He is my seven-year-old nephew. My sister is a commercial sex worker and infected with HIV since three years. She has abandoned her son, so I am taking care of him. I hope that this boy is not infected with HIV. I want to give him a better life.”

This is what Shailaja (name changed) who had come to the district hospital to get her nephew Anand (name changed) tested for HIV.

Shailaja is among several women who had brought their children to a special camp organised for testing HIV infection among children here on Wednesday.

Shailaja said that about eight years ago they came to know that her sister was involved in prostitution.

“We tried to convince her to shed the profession, but she didn’t. She left her son. I and my mother are taking care of him.

“I have two children and my husband owns a petty shop,” she said.

As many as 35 children had come to get the check up done. Mothers of most of these children are commercial sex workers.

A few children were accompanied by their mothers, while a few had come with their relatives or volunteers of non-governmental organisations. The Government has been emphasising on preventing HIV infection among elders, but the process to identify children infected with HIV has not been given much thrust, said paediatrician Vijay Kumar.

He said that cases of children being infected with HIV were on the rise.

“According to a survey, the State has over 3,000 HIV-infected children while the number at the national level is nearly seven lakh,” he said.

The Government was organising such camps to identify such children and provide them medical facilities. In most of the cases mothers of the infected children were sex workers, he added.

NGOs such as Mirada and Annapurna, working to educate sex workers about prevention of HIV/ AIDS, say that it is difficult to convince sex workers, particularly those from sub-urban and rural areas, about the use of contraceptives.

“We faced many difficulties in educating sex workers when we started education campaign three years ago. They did not cooperate with us. But when we started organising awareness camps with the help of professional sex workers, they came forward,” said Shwetha, a coordinator of Mirada.

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