27 April 2011
By Pratibha Masand
‘21 K Children Affected By Disease In State’
Between June 2007 and March 2011, CHAHA reached out to a total of 64,056 children and families affected by HIV and AIDS in the states of Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Maharashtra and Manipur. Out of these, 38% of families were found to be headed by women, many of who had to turn to prostitution to sustain their families.
"There were a total of 21,000 HIV positive children in the ten districts of Maharashtra, 52% of which had lost one of their parents to the disease and 17% had lost both their parents. The numbers were higher than that of the other three states," said Manoj Pardeshi, general secretary of Network of Maharashtra for people living with HIV.
It was also found that the status of children remains unknown especially after the death of their parents. "It is only when the child gets an infection and falls ill, that he/ she is taken to a hospital and it is there that their HIV status is found out.
Because of the delay in detection, most of the time, even the treatment is delayed," said Sonal Mehta from HIV/AIDS Alliance India. "A total of 13,001 children were encouraged to go for HIV tests by the programme, of which about 11% were found to be positive," she added.
The programme found that the needs of the HIV positive people were different and everything could not be provided by the anti-retroviral therapy (ART) centres. "For example, those children who were young are now growing up to be adolescents. Their needs are different and they have to be counselled differently from the ten-yearolds,"ssaid Shabana Patel from the National AIDS programme.
The programme, which had been running on global funds, is now struggling to carry on with the work with HIV-affected families. "The funds were given to us for five years in dollars. But since the value of dollars fell, the funds have got over in three years itself. We have asked for help from the National AIDS Control Program (NACO) and the Central government," Patel said.
Double ration proposed
The Network of Maharashtra for people living with HIV has submitted a proposal to the women and children department of Mantralaya, suggesting that the HIV positive children should get double ration in the anganwadis functioning across the country. According to them, the HIV positive children should be kept at par with the malnourished children when it comes to distribution of food.