HIV+ but positive on having a child

With the basics against HIV/AIDS - early diagnosis and continued treatment - seemingly in place, Indian doctors are looking at sociological nuances associated with the condition. An ongoing study at JJ Hospital's gynaecology department, for instance, is looking at fertility and reproductive desires of HIV-positive people.

"We are studying if men and women who have been diagnosed with HIV/AIDS understand the emotional, social and financial implications of having a child," said Dr Rekha Daver, who heads the gynaecology department. The fiveyear-long study, which is being done jointly with the Indian Council for Medical Research, started last year. The idea is to develop a better counselling mechanism for HIV-positive people. Incidentally, the National AIDS Control Organisation has recognised JJ Hospital's gynaecology department as a Centre of Excellence in the Prevention of Parent to Child Transmission of HIV/AIDS programme.

"We have delivered 1,073 HIVpositive women in the last 11 years. We have also managed to control mother-to-child transmission of HIV to a great deal. In fact, of the last 100 deliveries, 95 children are free of the virus,'' said Dr Daver.

Considering the number of HIVpositive people who come to JJ Hospital, it's not surprising that the fertility desire study is being done here. "The study involves hours of intense counselling, taking down notes and a check-up . We have finished interviewing around 20 people so far,'' said Dr Daver.

She added patients usually say having a child is their ultimate dream. "Social pressure as well as the woman's own mental makeup contributes to this decision," said Dr Daver. Every pregnant woman who comes to JJ Hospital's gynaecology department is counselled and voluntarily tested for HIV. They are informed of the risk of mother-to-child transmission of HIV and possibility of the children becoming AIDS orphans. "But many still want their biological babies," she said.

A Harvard University study a few years back noted that "spousal, family, community and cultural influences greatly shape HIV-positive women's desire to become pregnant. Studies in India , South Africa, Taiwan and Vietnam have demonstrated the weight of culture-specific spousal and family wishes that a woman will need to consider besides her own desires and HIV status."

Dr Daver added many HIV-positive women opt for pregnancy as they are worried about discrimination in society if they are childless.

"HIV-positive women have as much social problems as medical issues,'' she said.

Similar Threads: