20 March 2012
By Somita Pal
Ninety–five of the last 100 babies delivered by HIV–positive mothers at the JJ Hospital do not have the virus, a study by the gynaecology department of the JJ Hospital has shown. While the HIV–infected couples living abroad prefer to abort their child or take steps to prevent conceiving, in India the patients are often found taking the risk of having own children, the study adds.
Confirming the trend, Dr Rekha Daver, professor and head of Obstetrics and Gynaecology at Sir JJ Hospital, said, “I have seen that once counselled of the risk involved, HIV couples abroad drop the idea of a baby in favour of a proper contraceptive plan to avoid pregnancy. This doesn’t happen in India.”
As part of the study started a year ago, for the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), so far 20 HIV–positive couples desiring a child have been counselled. “Our counsellors try to make them understand how the disease can be transferred to the child, apart from affecting the HIV–positive mother’s health,” said Dr Daver.
But social pressures seem to be a primary reason behind the desire for motherhood among HIV–positive women. In fact, not only do many women feel incomplete without a child, they often go for a second pregnancy. “When during counselling, we tell them of the implications on the child and its future when they are gone, they reply saying the grandparents can take care of it,” said Daver, an awardee of the Excellence Award for her contribution to women’s health and family welfare by Lila Hira Charitable trust last week. In the past 10 years, the hospital has seen 1,073 deliveries by HIV–positive women, who are denied admission by other hospitals.
Surprisingly, the incidence HIV–positivity of the babies born has been low, the hospital claimed. “We cannot say exactly, but our estimate puts the percentage of babies transmitted the disease from the mother at 5–10%,” said Dr Daver, who is also the head of Positive Parent to Child Transfusion (PPTCT).
Apparently, the administration of Nevrapin and stress on a normal delivery are reasons for the low transmission rates. “We also give the mother the choice to breast feed, though there’s a slight chance of the virus transmission,” added Dr Daver.