Bruni gives hope to pregnant women with HIV | delhi | Hindustan Times
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Bruni gives hope to pregnant women with HIV

After wishing for a baby boy, just like many Indian women, at Ajmer Sharif yesterday, France's first lady Carla Bruni (43) stepped into the shoes of pregnant women during a visit to Safdarjung Hospital on Monday.

delhi Updated: Dec 06, 2010 23:10 IST
HT Correspondent

After wishing for a baby boy, just like many Indian women, at Ajmer Sharif yesterday, France's first lady Carla Bruni (43) stepped into the shoes of pregnant women during a visit to Safdarjung Hospital on Monday.

She appeared in her role as an ambassador of The Global Fund, which works towards prevention of HIV transmission from mother to her newborn.

Next on her itinerary was a visit to Naz Care Home, a home to 28 children aged from 2 to 17 years of whom 17 are on antiretroviral therapy (ART) to treat AIDS. She sang to them and promised to send them copies of her music albums.

There are 24 lakh people with HIV and AIDs in India, of which 3.5% infected are children.

At Safdarjung, the visit was more businesslike from the moment she stepped out of a black Mercedes at 11.12 am and was welcomed by medical superintendent Dr Nayan Kishore Mohanty.

Safdarjung Hospital was chosen because it records 50-100 births a day, the highest in any hospital in Delhi. It also runs the region's largest programme to prevent the transmission of HIV virus from pregnant mothers to their newborns.

Dressed in a black shirt, dark brown pants and a blue scarf, France's first lady took the route all pregnant women take when they come for delivery.

She began at the overcrowded Out Patients Department, which on other days caters to more than 5,000 patients. The next section was the obstetrics and gynaecology consultation, from where she went to the Voluntary Counselling and Testing Centre to watch women being counselled about HIV and AIDS before being tested.

She then went to the lab where blood samples are collected and discussed how the news of being HIV-positive is given to patients. The final destination was the ART centre on the fifth floor, where she met Hari Singh (46).

"I presented her with a Radha-Krishna portrait. She was curious to know how counsellors break the news when people test positive," said Singh, who has lived with HIV for 17 years.

"She asked me if I faced any problem since I was diagnosed," said Sita Thapa (30) of the first lady, who used an interpreter. Thapa got infected 2 years ago and currently works with World Vision India for creating AIDS awareness.

Bruni also discussed AIDS with UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi at a dinner hosted by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh here last night.

Bruni said, "Since we have the drugs that The Global Fund can bring to every country, my job is to say to every mother to go to the hospital, get tested. It is not a trauma, it is just a disease... your child will be healthy and you can take care of your family as well."