In an effort to prevent parent-child transmission of HIV/AIDS, Maharashtra Government has decided to introduce 'DNA-PCR' test from this year for new born babies.
"Using the sophisticated Polymerised Chain Reaction (PCR), it would be possible to identify whether the six-week old new born has been affected with the HIV transmitted from the mother.
Therefore treatment can be started immediately with navirapine prophylaxis and can be made available to the mother and the baby," Health Minister Suresh Shetty told PTI.
In Mumbai, the DNA-PCR test will be done at the Kasturba Hospital. Earlier, Elisa or Rapid tests were conducted after the babies turned 18 months old.
Explaining the difference between Elisa/Rapid and DNA-PCR, Shantaram Kudalkar, project director of Mumbai District Aids Control Society (MDAC) said, "The earlier tests were antibodies tests whereas DNA-PCR method directly tests the DNA of the virus."
"If 100 babies are born to 100 HIV positive mothers and are not treated with navirapine prophylaxis, there are chances that 33 per cent of the babies also turn out to be HIV positive. If the treatment begins immediately, only 5 to 10 per cent new born babies will be affected by the virus," Dr Kudalkar said.
Shetty said as per the directions of National AIDS Control Organisation (NACO), the state government has recently completed a line list of pregnant women who were found HIV infected, along with a detailed information and follow-up of children delivered by HIV positive mothers in municipal and government hospitals between 2005-07.
The task of line listing during 2008-09 is currently in progress, he said, adding there is 10 to 15 per cent difference in the statistic of the HIV prevalence data after the line listing has been completed.
Shetty said the line list of pregnant women who are found HIV infected is done to have a clear data of HIV prevalence.
Line listing is done so that HIV positive women can deliver in hospitals or maternity homes under the observation of specialist doctors, vaccination/nutrition of the baby can be done in an appropriate manner, the procedure of taking care of the mother's and the baby's health can be done at the right time with proper followup.