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Good Response from Pregnant Women in Delhi for Free ART Therapy

The number of children affected by AIDS/HIV in India has considerably increased over the previous years. More than 340 infant deaths in New Delhi can be attributed to the deadly disease every year, raising concerns regarding the prevalence of the disease among pregnant women//.

Nearly 22,837 new born children are infected with the disease and about 11,434 die due to it at the present. Currently, an estimated 2, 02,000 children suffer from HIV/AIDS in India.

In response to the above situation, a silent campaign has been launched in the capital to ensure protection of a child from the disease. It is also targeted at institution of Anti-Retroviral Therapy (ART) to the pregnant mother to improve her health and reduce the risk of mother-child transmission of HIV.

A pregnant mother with HIV has a 30% chance of transmitting the infection to her child. The risk of transmission during vaginal delivery. The only way to reduce this type of transmission is encouraging women to come forward to get tested for the virus.

Several programmes have been accomplished to achieve the desired objective. An outreach programme called `MITWA', provides mobile HIV testing services and counseling services, in the rural or slum areas where people are largely ignorant regarding the spread of HIV. The Delhi Health Department, has also initiated several of `Stree Shakti' camps to promote free health tests detecting the presence of infection.

Several health centers popularly called Prevention of Parent-to-Child Transmission Centres (PPTCs) in Delhi, nearly 49 pregnant women received anti-retroviral drug Neviraprine, which has been found to be very effective in preventing the spread of the disease from the mother to the child. This figure is much better when compared to the previous years where less than 40 of them had received treatment. The drug, if administered to the pregnant mother four hours before the delivery, would be effective in preventing the infection in the newborn. Currently, the drug is being given free of cost by the PPTCs and is found to be beneficial to the mother as well. Although, promising figures have been obtained regarding the response to ART therapy, it is equally important to target many more pregnant women who could be suffering from the disease through appropriate programs.

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