The Odisha government on the occasion of World AIDS Day, December 1, announced that a combo kit would be distributed for the screening of the Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) and Syphilis in the state.
With this, Odisha became the first state in the country to introduce the rapid combo diagnostic testing kit for both the diseases.
After procuring funding from the National Health Mission (NHM), Odisha procured six lakh combo kits to carry out the tests in the first phase.
The mission Director of NHM Shalini Pandit shared that in a year, the state reports around 5.5 lakh to six lakh pregnancies. With the combo testing kits, the results could be obtained immediately on the spot.
This test would benefit pregnant mothers especially. With the testing done for both diseases at an early stage, necessary preventive measures could be started at an early stage to protect the mother as well as the child.
The testing kit was launched by the Health and Family Welfare Minister Nabakishore Das via video conferencing.
Das directed the officials to increase the frequency of screening for the diseases as it would provide timely treatment to expecting mothers. As per the latest data released, out of 3,11,295 pregnant women who were tested this year, only 228 have tested positive for HIV.
For protecting the health of pregnant women, 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.
Apart from ART centres, Odisha has 232 integrated counselling and testing centres. Till date, 52,067 HIV positive patients have been detected in the state. As HIV has claimed close to 8939 lives, the new screening tests is expected to bring down the numbers.