100 HIV-positive mothers deliver 100 HIV-free babies


An initiative taken by J J Hospital to reduce mother-to-baby transmission of the virus

If after reading the headline you are thinking how is it possible let us tell you it is because of the dedication and determination of JJ hospital’s gynaecology department that made this perfect 100 score possible. This has been one of the most challenging tasks for the department to deliver HIV-free babies of HIV-positive mothers since March 2014. The hospital had welcomed the entire HIV+ pregnant women who were turned away from other hospitals. In total the hospital performed 1,200 deliveries for HIV+ women since 2000.

‘We have been working on reducing mother-to-child transmission of HIV since 2000. But we have been pleasantly surprised to note that 100 children born since the start of the three-drug regimen (Tenofovir, Lamivudine and Efavirenz) are HIV-free,’ said Dr Rekha Daver, who heads JJ Hospital’s gynaecology department and is on the National AIDS Control Organisation task force to a leading newspaper.
Without drug intervention, babies born to HIV+ mothers have 45% risk of HIV infection during pregnancy, delivery and breastfeeding. The last 100 deliveries of HIV-positive mothers at the state-run J J Hospital in Mumbai have been more special for two reasons. Firstly, these HIV-positive pregnant women got special treatment due to the Union ministry of health’s decision to start them on an anti-HIV regimen for life as soon they discovered their pregnancy. Secondly, the children don’t carry the dreaded virus.
Between 2001 and 2002, India started giving a single dose (of Nevirapine tablet) to pregnant women and the newborn. In 2014, India accepted the World Health Organisation’s Option B+ that entails pregnant women taking the three drug dose daily to reduce the viral load in their bodies. ‘To ensure women take the drugs daily, the government has worked out a single tablet of these three drugs to be taken before sleeping every night,’ said Dr Daver.
As a result, the viral load among the mothers fell to negligible levels. ‘Moreover, women can breast-feed their child without the fear of transmitting the virus (there is a 8-25% chance of the child getting infected by breastfeeding),’ she added. There is, however, a spot of big worry. ‘We estimate that 36,000 HIV-positive women get pregnant every year, but barely 14,000 women make it to antenatal centres and get medicines and help. We are worried about these missing mothers,’ said Dr Srikala Acharya, who heads the Mumbai District AIDS Control Society.