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Pregnant HIV positive women a concern in Jharkhand

Posted on Nov 29, 05:04PM | IANS

The number of pregnant women testing HIV positive in Jharkhand is a cause of concern, a Unicef statement said Thursday.

According to data released by the Jharkhand unit of Unicef, based on National Aids Control Society (NACO) findings, till September this year, 66 of 69,200 pregnant women were found to be HIV positive. The number was 76 of 61,500 in 2011.

The adult HIV prevalence was 0.11 percent in 2005 and 2006, which increased to 0.13 percent in 2007 and 2009.

Out of the 23,600 HIV positive people in the state, 91 percent are aged between 15-49 years, 2.5 percent are children and 6.5 percent are aged over 50 years.

In 2009, there were 3,814 new cases compared to 1.2 lakh in the country, and 836 deaths in the state.

"The transmission of the HIV virus from mother to child could be prevented if all pregnant women are tested every year. At present only eight percent were tested," said a Unicef release.

"In 2011, only 61,500 pregnant women were tested for HIV, against total number of about 8.2 lakh pregnant women. Out of this, only 38 received treatment to prevent parent-to-child transmission (PPTCT), against the estimated number of 527," it said.

It is estimated that there are 40,476 female sex workers (FSW), 3,295 men who have sex with men (MSM) and 1,805 injecting drug users(IDU) in Jharkhand.

According to a Unicef official, the cause of the spread of AIDS needs to be addressed.

Transmission of HIV can be prevented by practicing safe sex behaviours such as use of condoms. The large share of migrant population also pose as a challenge.

The UN body suggested that the stigma and discrimination against people living with HIV-AIDS needs to be checked by awareness among service providers and communities.

The Jharkhand State AIDS Control Society (JSACS) has adopted many methods to prevent the spread of the disease in the state.

"We have set up six Anti-retroviral treatment (ART) centres and 17 link ART centres for treatment in the state. Jharkhand has a network of 42 blood banks of which 24 are in the government sector and 18 in the voluntary sector," a JSACS official told IANS.

"We have also initiated several programmes for targeted interventions among high risk groups," he added.