Palampur: To mark the International Women’s Day, women in Palampur held a ‘Mashaal Rally’ as part of the district health department’s wider campaign on AIDS to raise awareness about parent-to-child transmission of HIV on Sunday. A candle-light procession was conducted by women from different walks of life to show solidarity for the health rights of women and dispel myths and taboos associated with HIV. The rally included over 600 working women, anganwari workers, health workers, Tibetan women, women lawyers and students from CSKHPKV Palampur and ITI Palampur. The rally was flagged off by Chief Medical Officer Dr AK Mahajan from the Indo-German Hall in Palampur and concluded at the bus stand in the form of a red ribbon shape, which signified commitment to fight against HIV.
Dr RK Sood, project officer, AIDS Kangra, addressing the gathering said that March was being observed as a month for awareness about parent-to-child transmission of HIV. “Over 1,000 children under 15 years of age are infected everyday with HIV globally. The most significant source of HIV infection in infants and children under the age of 15 years is transmission of HIV from mother to child during pregnancy, childbirth or breastfeeding. The Prevention of Parent to Child Transmission (PPTCT) programme aims to prevent the perinatal transmission of HIV from an HIV infected pregnant mother to her newborn baby,” he said.
Under the programme, women are being made to protect themselves from getting infected by getting themselves tested timely for HIV so that they know their status and prevent transmission to the child, and special precautions may be taken during delivery and avoid breastfeeding to protect the unborn child. He emphasised that HIV testing is confidential under ethical guidelines and three tests are conducted on every sample in ICTC for the same. Compared to this, other labs do only one test and have possibility of false negative or false positive. Under this, the first step is ‘know one’s status’ at the nearest ICTC. If the test report is negative, take measures to remain negative. If positive, they can take measures to protect the unborn child and ask partners to test and get treatment. Under a cascading snowball approach, a training workshop for female health supervisors in Kangra district is also being conducted, who will further train health workers and anganwari workers in the next week throughout the district.
Prior to this, artists form the Nitika Kala Sangam, Sirmour, gave an entertaining and captivating performance on various aspects of HIV transmission and prevention at various spots in the town.
56,700 infected babies
In India, as per a report by the Joint Technical Mission on PPTCT (2006), there are 27 million pregnancies annually, out of which nearly 189,000 occur in HIV positive women leading to an estimated annual cohort of 56,700 infected babies. Fortunately, parent-to-child transmission can be prevented with a combination of low-cost, short-term preventive drug treatment, safe delivery practices, counselling and support, and safe infant-feeding methods. The availability and use of short course Anti-Retro Viral prophylaxis in the form of a safe and well-tolerated single dose regimen for mother and child during labour and delivery has made an effective PPTCT possible.