Passing AIDS from mother to child is a human rights violation and soon all pregnant women in India will have to undergo a mandatory HIV test, the parliamentary forum on HIV and AIDS said Friday.
“We want a HIV free generation. We are for testing all pregnant women for HIV so that no children can be born with the disease,” Oscar Fernandes, head of the Parliamentary Forum on HIV and AIDS, told IANS.
“Passing the disease to a new born is a human rights violation. This should stop and all of us must try to make this a success,” he said on the sideline of an event here.
Fernandes, appreciated across the country for advocating a better life for AIDS patients, said: “The new born should not suffer lifelong without committing any sin. Why should they suffer? Isn't it a human rights violation?”
The former labour minister said the forum met UNAIDS executive director Michel Sidibe Thursday and discussed the issue with him.
“Sidibe said, 'India must produce a generation without HIV'. This is possible if we go for detecting the virus in every single pregnant women before delivery.”
India is home to at least 2.5 million HIV positive people and thousands of babies are born with HIV positive status as they acquire the virus while in their mother's womb.
Sidibe, on his first visit to India, has held a series of meetings with government authorities. He has emphasised the role of the political leadership in ensuring that the country's universal access goals to HIV prevention, care and treatment are achieved.
Fernandes said this would be done by involving the panchayats. “You know, institutional delivery in India happens in around 50 percent of the cases. Here we have to involve the panchayats.”
He added that the health ministry's Janani Suraksha Yojana (JSY) will take this issue for implementation. JSY is a safe motherhood intervention under the National Rural Health Mission (NRHM) and is being implemented with the objective of reducing maternal and neo-natal mortality by promoting institutional delivery among the poor.
JSY is a 100 percent centrally sponsored scheme and it integrates cash assistance with delivery and post-delivery care. The success of the scheme would be determined by the increase in institutional delivery among the poor families.
“If we detect HIV before the institutional delivery, it will curb HIV spread. You will see it soon,” Fernandes said.
The Parliamentary Forum on HIV and AIDS started in 2000 under the leadership of Oscar Fernandes to to strengthen India’s response to this dreaded disease. Dozens of parliamentarians are its members, who all work to create awareness and help the government in formulating policies on this subject.