Indian Health Minister Announces Plan To Provide Treatment to HIV-Positive Mothers, Children
Indian Health Minister Sushma Swaraj on Tuesday speaking to members of parliament on the Ministry of Health & Family Welfare's consultative committee announced a plan to treat HIV-positive mothers and their HIV-positive children, the Times of India reports. She said that the country's current prevention efforts do not adequately address HIV-positive people and children who have lost one or both parents due to AIDS-related illnesses, according to the Times. "If we can provide care to an infected mother she will be able to take care of her children," Swaraj said, adding that the new effort would focus on extending the life spans of both HIV-positive women and children, the Times reports. "In our new campaign we have taken an infected person as one of us and this should be our approach," Swaraj said (Times of India, 10/23).
Swaraj last month announced that the government-run condom company Hindustan Latex Limited will cover the cost of treatment for Bency and Benson Chandy, two children who have been ostracized from their village in southern India. The children were born HIV-positive, and their parents died of AIDS-related causes in 2000. The Indian government is currently paying for the siblings' education, including the cost of the children's three private teachers (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 10/1). Swaraj said that HIV/AIDS must be viewed as a "human issue," according to the Times. She added, "We should take utmost care in our campaign and must not brand the disease with guilt" (Times of India, 10/23). The Indian Health Ministry estimates that 4.58 million people, or 0.8% of the population, is HIV-positive (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 10/1). More information on HIV/AIDS in India is available online as part of kaisernetwork.org's Issue Spotlight on HIV/AIDS.