BHUBANESWAR: The Odisha government on Tuesday rolled out a combo kit for the screening of HIV and syphilis on the occasion of World AIDS Day. Odisha is the first state in the country to introduce the kit for dual rapid diagnostic tests.
Screening pregnant women for HIV and syphilis, both sexually transmitted diseases, is a critical component to achieve the elimination of mother to child transmission for the two diseases. With the funding support from the National Health Mission (NHM), Odisha has procured six lakh combo kits in the first phase.
Mission Director of NHM Shalini Pandit said the state reports around 5.5 lakh to six lakh pregnancies a year and the combo kits will help screen both HIV and syphilis at one go. Results can be obtained on the spot with the kit-based test, she said.
"Pregnant women are usually screened for various health conditions during the village nutrition day as part of the antenatal check-up. Though HIV test is being done through rapid test kit, syphilis test is skipped. If both are detected early through the combo kit, preventive therapy can be started early for protecting the foetus," she said.
Health and Family Welfare Minister Nabakishore Das launched the combo kit through video conferencing. Das directed the officials to intensify screening of both the disease in order to provide the pregnant women timely treatment.
Of the 3,11,295 pregnant women screened this year, only 228 have tested positive for HIV. As per the recently released data, the HIV prevalence in the state is 0.14 per cent (pc) as against the national average of 0.22 per cent.
"Awareness and preventive measures have led to the fall in prevalence from 0.31 per cent in 2010 to 0.14 pc in 2019. All pregnant women will be screened for HIV and syphilis free of cost in the state," Additional chief Secretary of Health department PK Mohapatra said.
Meanwhile, the state government has decided to set up antiretroviral therapy (ART) centres at five more districts. The new centres will come up at the district headquarters hospital at Kendrapara, Keonjhar, Kalahandi and Gajapati besides the PRM Medical College and Hospital at Baripada.
With this, the number of ARTs will increase to 19. Odisha has 232 integrated counselling and testing centres apart from 19 link-ART centres.
So far, 52,067 HIV positive patients have been detected in the state. While highest 76 pc among them are aged between 25 and 49, 88 pc of them were infected due to unprotected sex. The infectious disease has claimed 8939 lives.