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Does the government need more funds to fight HIV?

More resources would be dedicated to strengthening volunteer programmes in the forthcoming appraisal of the 12th Plan (2012-17) to address the issue of parent-to-child transmission of HIV, Planning Commission member Syeda Hameed said on Tuesday. The projects which link up with the existing government schemes and which help to transform the people at grassroots level will be encouraged, Hameed said at a conference in New Delhi.

She appreciated the four-year project, 'Reduction of Parent to Child Transmission of HIV in India: Improving access of Positive Women to Public Health Services', in which volunteers educate HIV positive pregnant women on ways to prevent transmission of the AIDS virus to their unborn child. The project is funded by the European Union and Christian Aid was implemented by the Positive Women's Network (PWN), Tamil Nadu Voluntary Health Association (TNVHA), Arogya Agam, Tamil Nadu and Society for People's Action for Development (SPAD), Karnataka. This project, which was implemented for four years in Rajasthan, Karnataka and Tamil Nadu, was integral to what 12th Plan has stated of reaching out to tribal areas and the promotion of volunteerism, Hameed

I hope the forthcoming appraisal of the 12th Plan would provide more resources for similar programmes, she added. Padmavati, president of PWN, said: We have seen that HIV positive pregnant women either abort their children, or stop going to the hospital. Doctors in districts and villages give lists of such people to volunteers like me for follow-up. We talk to them, tell them about PPTCT, we facilitate them to get all the benefits from the hospital and we do follow ups till the baby is 18 months old and perform a test and confirm that HIV test is negative.

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Prevention of Parent-To-Child Transmission (PPTCT) provides a comprehensive support and clinical services to prevent the transmission of HIV from parents to their baby. A pregnant woman with HIV infection has an approximately 30 percent chance of passing the virus on to her new born baby. The PPTCT programme provides medicine and treatment for the mother as well as the baby. It also creates awareness about safe delivery practices, safe infant feeding practices, counselling and support services to reduce the number of HIV-infected infants.

What is HIV/AIDS?

HIV/AIDS is a disease that affects the human immune system. AIDS is the final stage of Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) infection. If an HIV positive person is left untreated, his/her condition deteriorates into full-blown AIDS where the immune system stops working. Thus the immune system is unable to protect the person from diseases or infections. The virus can be transmitted from an HIV positive person through the exchange of body fluids. This can happen through sexual contact, blood transfusion, needles or from a mother to child during pregnancy. Though there is no cure yet, antiretroviral treatment has proven to be very effective. (Read: Together we can HIV/AIDS)

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