23 November 2010
By Durgesh Nandan Jha
New Delhi, India
Doctors at AIIMS claim that they have successfully helped HIV positive women to deliver 84 children since August 2004, the highest number in all government hospitals across the country. Of these, 83 children are healthy and free from HIV infection. One baby died due to early infection.
Head of the gynaecology department Dr Suneeta Mittal said 61% of these children were delivered through caesarean procedure as it reduces the chances of infection transmission by one-third. The rest were born through normal delivery.
‘‘We screened more than 10,000 pregnant women admitted at AIIMS under ‘Prevention of Parent to Child Transmission’ programme. Of these, 128 women tested positive for the disease. Fifteen percent opted for termination of the pregnancy while others were operated on and given the required drugs,’’ Mittal said.
Lalit Kumar, a counsellor at AIIMS, said that 75% of the HIV positive mothers treated by the departments were from the cities, including Delhi. ‘‘There were some cases in which the women were found positive for HIV and the male counterpart tested negative. This led to tension in the family and their relationship was on the verge of breaking. But after the birthof thechild,thefamily was happy,’’ said Kumar.
The treatment included doses of Nevarapin to the mother during delivery, followed by a single dose to the infant within 72 hours of birth. Except for one child who died within hours of birth as he was infected before the mother reached us, all children are safe and have tested negative for HIV, said Dr Mittal.
Out of 84 children born, 47 have completed their periodical tests of 18 months and have tested negative for the infection. ‘‘These children can live a healthy life now. We hope good results for other children too,’’ said Dr Mittal. She said that breast feeding can also lead to transmission of HIV infection, so most of the mothers have been advised against it.
According to the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), every year, more than 7 lakh children become HIV-positive via transmission from their parents across the world. Some 15-20% are infected during pregnancy, 50% during delivery and 33% through breastfeeding. PPTCT, which is supported by National AIDS Control Organisation (NACO), is a nationwide program aimed at reducing the number of HIV positive cases.