Two years ago, 11-year-old repeated bouts of pneumonia prompted doctors to check her HIV (Human immunodeficiency virus) status. Last year, the Class 6 dropout was detected HIV positive. But her HIV negative parents refused to believe the test results and did not start treatment.
Two weeks ago, the girl became the first patient to be registered at Umang Clinic at Malwani, Malad, the city’s first paediatric HIV clinic for Anti Retroviral Treatment (ART). ART comprises a combination of drugs that acts against the virus, which causes HIV infection. HIV positive children up to 16 years will be given ART and treatment for other ailments at the clinic.
The centre is the first paediatric HIV clinic run jointly by two non-profit organisations in Mumbai. Till now, only Sion Hospital with a Centre of Excellence for paediatric HIV could give HIV positive children the treatment. “With a clinic closer home, we are getting the needed help,” said the girl’s father.
Doctors say there are around 3,000 HIV positive children in the city. “We often come across HIV positive children whose parents are positive and unwell. This takes a huge toll on the family,” said Dr Varsha Bhosle, who completed a fellowship in paediatric HIV from Sion Hospital before starting the centre.
The centre that started work two weeks ago, is currently operating from a temporary location but will have a permanent address by next month. At present, 25 children have registered at the centre. “Such satellite centres will help children who currently travel from western suburbs to Sion hospital,” said Dr Mamata Manglani, head of Centre of Excellence, Paediatric ART unit, Sion hospital.