‘All 67 children born to HIV-positive women in Mumbai over past 2 years are HIV-negative’
Responding to a right to information query, Mumbai doctors said repeated testings revealed that the children were HIV-negativemumbai Updated: Aug 02, 2017 11:57 IST
All 67 children born to HIV-positive women from May 2015 to May 201 7 have been declared free of the deadly infection, said officials from JJ Hospital, Maharashtra’s largest medical facility.
Responding to a right to information (RTI ) query, doctors said repeated testings revealed that the children were HIV-negative.
They tested infants who were younger than 18 months, and who had been exposed to HIV-positive mothers. When the infants were six weeks old, they underwent DNA-PCR tests. They underwent a final antibody test at 18 months.
The transmission of HIV from a woman to her child during pregnancy, labour, delivery or breastfeeding is called mother-to-child transmission. In the absence of any intervention, transmission rates range from 15% to 45%. This rate can be reduced to less than 5%, with effective interventions during pregnancy, labour, delivery and breastfeeding.
“Credit goes to our doctors and the revamped treatment regime, given by the National AIDS Control Organisation (NACO) in 2014. We achieved excellent results owing to a combination of three drugs — Tenofovir, Lamivudine and Efavirenz (TLE),” said Dr T P Lahane, dean of JJ hospital.
NACO had recognised JJ Hospital as a centre of excellence, owing to its Prevention of Mother-to-Child Transmission HIV program.
For decades, doctors would prescribe a single-dose tablet (Nevarapine) to pregnant woman.Though the tablets lowered the transmission rates, they still remained significantly higher than the international average. Drug resistance among women was another major issue, said doctors. In 2014, NACO adopted the World Health Organisation’s B+ program, which gave the three drugs to hospitals for free.
Chetan Kothari, who had filed the RTI, said the treatment regimen needs to be strictly followed in all of India’s hospitals, to eliminate mother-to-child transmission of HIV.
“Small counties such as Cuba have achieved this. However, WHO’s 2015 report states that India has managed to get only 38% of HIV-infected pregnant woman on the three- drug treatment. Since the drugs are provided for free, there should be no difficulty in achieving 100% results,” said Kothari.
Cuba’s milestone, India’s goal
Cuba became the first country to be validated by the World Health Organisation (WHO) for eliminating mother-to-child transmission of HIV and syphilis in 2015. The achievement marked a major progress in global public health. “Eliminating the transmission of a virus is one of the greatest public health achievements possible,” said Dr Margaret Chan, WHO Director-General. “This is a major victory in our long fight against HIV and sexually transmitted infections, and an important step towards having an AIDS-free generation.”