TAMIL NADU

Steps to prevent mother-to-child HIV transmission: Health Minister

Staff Reporter

MADURAI: "The State Government has accorded prime importance to prevent mother-to-child transmission of HIV and a sustained campaign is taken up in all districts to create awareness among pregnant women," Health Minister N. Thalavai Sundaram said here on Thursday.

He said tests were being conducted for women during pregnancy itself so that preventive action could be taken if they were infected with HIV.

The Minister was speaking at the World AIDS Day function, organised for the first time outside Chennai, by the Tamil Nadu State AIDS Control Society (TANSACS) with the theme `Stop AIDS--Keep the promise.'

Mr. Sundaram pointed out that the number of people using the Integrated Counselling and Testing Centres was encouraging. Infrastructure had been provided for all district and taluk hospitals to provide treatment to HIV patients and primary health centres were also being given attention.

"The Chief Minister is determined to prevent spread of HIV/AIDS. It is due to the steps taken during her earlier tenure in 1991-96 that polio and leprosy could be checked," he asserted.

Mr. Sundaram said that TANSACS was established in 1994 with a clear goal of prevention and it was now giving thrust to stop transmission of HIV to children at the time of birth. He also referred to the `condom on wheels' launched by the Government to promote use of condoms and create awareness in villages.

The Speaker, K. Kalimuthu, said those persons infected and affected with HIV/AIDS should not be looked down by the society "and affected persons can lead a life with self-confidence."

The Collector, D. Raajendiran, who presided over the function, said 5.1million people were affected by HIV/AIDS of whom nearly one lakh were children.

The Project Director of TANSACS, S. Vijayakumar, said the epidemic had stabilised in the State due to concerted efforts taken through 275 counselling and testing centres across the State.

Cassette released

Later, the Health Minister released an audio cassette containing awareness messages and songs and presented it to Mr. Kalimuthu.

Several rallies and cultural programmes were held at many places in the city by involving school and college students, medical/ non-medical staff and voluntary organisations.

The Confederation of Indian Industry-Madurai Zone, organised a World AIDS Day Walk on the occasion.