‘27% of pregnant women in Bihar not screened for HIV in 2021-22’

At least 27% of women in Bihar who reported pregnancy in the financial year 2021-22 have not been tested for human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), according to health department records, with 30.43 lakh prenatal care (ANC) registrations in the same period. , Said the officials overseeing the AIDS control program in the state.

This is contrary to the central and state mandate to test all pregnant women for HIV as part of efforts to eliminate the disease from mother to child during pregnancy.

HIV leads to acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS), a chronic and potentially life-threatening condition.

Against this backdrop, Bihar, Maharashtra (220,436), Andhra Pradesh (198,698), Karnataka (171,647) and India (eighth) followed Tamil Nadu with 67,601 people living with HIV (PLHIV) on anti-retroviral treatment (ART). According to data from the National AIDS Control Organization (NACO), Nadu (121,955), Uttar Pradesh (96,205), Telangana (87,217) and Gujarat (74,457).

Bihar, which records about 8,000 new cases of PLHIV annually, has decreased by 27% since 2010, but ranks third in Maharashtra and Uttar Pradesh in new HIV infections each year, according to health expert Dr Siddhartha Shankar Reddy. Bihar Chapter of the UNICEF (United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund).

Officials say private maternity clinics are under-reporting more than 25% of the test gap. The remaining 2% are due to lack of testing during normal vaginal childbirth in non-institutional, home or remote areas.

“Private nursing home owners are not testing or testing pregnant women for HIV but sharing the data with the government. In the absence of any legislation, we cannot force them to share with us the data of HIV tests conducted. The gap between the number of ANC registrations and the number of documented HIV tests shows as ‘examined cases’ in government records, ”said an official. “In 2021-22, we achieved HIV testing of 73% of the total 30.43 lakh ANC registrations. This is high when we examine 67% of 31.36 lakh pregnant women registered for ANC compared to the previous financial year (2020-21).

The percentage of HIV testing for pregnant women increased from 60.34% of the 32.48 lakh ANC registrations in 2018-19 to 65.54% of the 33.92 lakh ANC registrations in 2019-20.

From 2018-19, HIV positivity in Bihar among pregnant women is between 0.02% and 0.03%. In the general population, it has declined from 1.50% in 2018-19 to 0.92% in 2021-22.

The Patna chapter of the Federation of Obstetrics and Gynecological Societies of India (FOGSI), an 870 gynecologist’s forum, says the government’s guidelines on HIV testing report are not clear.

“All pregnancies are tested for HIV. However, there are no clear guidelines for reporting HIV testing to the government. The lack of awareness among the doctors may be due to the authorities not doing enough to sensitize them, ”said Dr Kumari Manju, treasurer of the Patna Obstetrics and Gynecology Society and professor of obstetrics and gynecology at Patna Medical College Hospital. , The state’s largest health care facility with about 2,800 beds.

“It is clear that radiologists should report to the district civil surgeon every ultrasound examination of a pregnant woman. There is no such defined reporting channel for HIV testing. If so, the government has not done enough to disseminate the information, ”he said.

Dr Vinita Singh, president of the Patna Obstetrics and Gynecology Society, said that a sensory program was planned for gynecologists with Bihar State AIDS Control Society (BSACS), UNICEF and FOGSI in Patna later this month.

“Enrollment is poor not only in private clinics but also in government health facilities in Bihar. Most gynecologists do not know about reporting HIV testing to the government, ”she said.

According to government records, the private sector in Bihar has about 20% ANC registration.

The Director of Planning of Bihar State AIDS Control Society, Kanul Agarwal, defended the government.

“From 2018-19, we have held at least five meetings with various district representatives of FOGSI to educate doctors on HIV testing. Also, 32 meetings with district officials, civil society members and FOGSI representatives on mother-to-child transmission have been held during this period. We have planned such high sensitivity programs that will engage doctors in the future, ”Agarwal said.

Two years ago, we signed an Memorandum of Understanding to share HIV testing data with 501 of the 1,200 prestigious private maternity clinics, hospitals and diagnostic centers identified by BSACS in Bihar. “We hope to bridge the gap in HIV testing among pregnant women soon,” she said.


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