Secure neonate, stem HIV

Secure neonate, stem HIV

 
For her, life began to look a lot better, after an outreach worker took her to PLHA (People Living With HIV/AIDS) network. The network counsellors followed up her case with the hospital and she was given Nevirapine, an anti-retroviral drug that reduces the chance of mother transmitting the virus to the baby. Uma was lucky, after 18 months her child tested negative for the virus.

Prevention of parent to child transmission (PPTCT) is a fairly successful phase of the National Aids Control Programme. In Karnataka, the project was initiated in 2002 by government and NGOs with funding from National Aids Control Organisation(NACO). Later, when NACO retracted the funding to NGOs, the project was confined to district and taluk level, with little focus on community level implementation.

NGOs, by then, had worked out a favourable model for reversing the rate of HIV infection by taking the project to grassroots level. It was around this time that Society for People's Action for Development (SPAD) took up the project more intensely to community level. SPAD is one of the Bangalore based non-state actors implementing the project in six districts in Karnataka, with the financial support of European Union. The programme was started in 2005, focusing on highly vulnerable group such as long distance truck drives and sex workers.

The HIV prevalence rate among the antenatal women was 1.13 percent in 2006. One of the effective ways to control the infection is through prevention of mother to child transmission, says Augustine C  Kaunds, President, SPAD.   

"Women are counselled at antenatal clinics during general pregnancy care. And women who agree to go for HIV test are given individual counselling. Once the test results are obtained, the HIV positive women go through a post-test counselling, during which they are advised to come back to the same hospital for delivery", says Augustine.  

Giving anti retroviral drug, Nevirapine, at the time of delivery can reduce the chance of mother transmitting infection, by 35 per cent. “Women may not come back to the same hospital for delivery. The real challenge is when you have to track them and make arrangements for administering the drug during labour,” explains Augustine. With an estimated 5 lakh people living with HIV infection, Karnataka is among sixth high prevalence states for HIV in India.

Karnataka shares border with Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh and Maharashtra which are high prevalence states for HIV. There is extensive migration to and from these states, exposing the State to more risk. Low development indices and literacy rate and lack of awareness have only added to the State's vulnerability to this stigmatized infection.  

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