Daunted by the fear of giving birth to infected children,HIV positive women in Odisha’s Kendrapara district are mostly opting to medically terminate their pregnancies.
In the recent past,at least a dozen such instances have taken place. In earlier cases also,majority of expectant mothers who contracted HIV had abortions,according to health officials of government-run hospitals in the region.
“We have asked the state AIDS control society-run integrated counselling and testing centres (ICTC) to provide counselling for HIV-infected pregnant women and to instill in them confidence,” said additional district medical officer Manoj Behera.
In the past 12 months,two dozen such abortions were eported. Ironically,the majority of them were carried out in private clinics,in violation of provisions of the Pre-Natal Diagnostic Techniques Act and the Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act,sources said.
Of the 561 infected persons,there are about 72 couples who have tested HIV positive. Many are scared of getting branded as AIDS patients as there are instances of victims here being ostracised.
There is a regular exodus of skilled labour from these parts of the state to the country’s urban and industrial centers triggered by poverty and a lack of employment opportunities.
Migrant labours contract the virus and bring it home to their family members. Over 90 per cent of the 561 HIV carriers were migrant workers,according to officials.