Mother to child transmission is a major cause of HIV in children. AHANA, a flagship national programme, is working for a world where no child is born with HIV/Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome (AIDS). It focuses on the elimination of mother-to-child transmission of HIV and is implemented by Plan India with support from The Global Fund. More than 50% of India’s pregnancies occur in villages and blocks, where the availability of HIV testing in health facilities remains a challenge.
AHANA is remarkable in its sheer scope and aims to cover 55% of India’s annual pregnancy load and reach 16.5 million annual pregnancies across 357 districts in 14 states each year with HIV testing. AHANA also provides care and support to HIV exposed babies until they are 18 months old, along with facilitating postpartum care for the lactating mother. AHANA is being implemented in close coordination with the National AIDS Control Organisation (NACO) and National Health Mission (NHM) to influence policies and strategies in both the design and implementation phases of the NHM Programme.
The capacity building, demand generation and advocacy initiatives of AHANA have resulted in improved testing and treatment through support at antenatal care camps. Plan India has trained more than 50,000 frontline workers to carry out HIV testing, raising the percentage of pregnant women receiving HIV testing from a dismal 18% in September 2015 to 61% in June 2019.
A key outcome of Plan India’s evidence-based advocacy has resulted in local procurement of HIV test kits and consumables by the state governments to meet the increased demand at the peripheral level. AHANA helps Plan India work parallelly towards delivering improved outcomes for institutional delivery, breastfeeding, adoption of safe sex practices and other pre-natal and ante-natal care. It also works at creating an enabling social and family environment through advocacy and outreach to improve the quality of life of people living with HIV, linking them with social welfare schemes and livelihood support services. Apart from deliveries managed by the government institutions, round 18% of the pregnancies are managed and delivered through private institutions in the 14 states of the programme area.
In phase II, AHANA has established collaborations with Federation of Obstetric and Gynaecological Societies of India (FOGSI), Indian Medical Association (IMA) and Indian Academy of Paediatrics (IAP) to intensify case finding and promote the elimination of mother-to-child transmission services in the private sector to provide universal coverage. For a woman who discovers she is HIV positive, AHANA means the transformation of a nightmare full of fear, discrimination and stigma to hope, improved health outcomes for herself and her baby, support from welfare initiatives and brighter future.
- 13 million pregnant women tested for HIV from July 2018 to June 2019
- 95% of HIV-positive pregnant women put on ART 88% infants exposed to HIV completed their first early infant HIV diagnosis (EID) within two months of birth, up from 2% from June 2018 to July 2019
- 30,000 ANMs and 9,000 ICTC, ART and STI counsellors to be trained across the country