A study has examined the feasibility of providing women in India with voluntary testing for HIV while they are in a labour and delivery unit.
The National AIDS Control Organization (NACO) of India estimated that some 60% of cases of HIV infection are round in rural areas, where about half of India's citizens live. In rural and urban areas, women of reproductive age are principally at risk for HIV acquisition through marriage. Therefore, NACO has focused on the expansion of voluntary counseling and testing (VCT) services to effect the prevention of mother-to-child transmission (PMTCT) of HIV during labour and delivery.
The study of 1500 women found that acceptance of HIV testing in the labour ward was almost universal--98% of women offered HIV testing accepted it. A total of 15 women were found to be HIV infected using the HIV testing algorithm, giving a prevalence of 1.23%, a rate close to the 1% anticipated from the recent antenatal sentinel surveillance. Importantly, 11 of the HIV-infected women were newly identified and were immediately provided with PMTCT treatment.