As the country is preparing to draft the new National AIDS Control Programme, a study has revealed that over 72 per cent of the children living with the disease in West Bengal belong to below poverty line families.
The study, which was conducted by the Unicef office of Bengal and Bengal Network of People living with HIV/AIDS, was held between January 2009 and September 2010. It covered 857 HIV-affected children of 995 families.
The study said of these 995 families, 12 per cent were unemployed, 40 per cent depended on daily wages, 10 per cent were engaged in agriculture and 23 percent were part of unorganised sector.
Besides, 29 per cent fathers and 33 per cent mothers of the affected children were illiterate.
According to the number of the children registered for pre-Antiretroviral Treatment (ART) in health centers across the state, around 1500 children are affected with HIV in the state.
Among the children living with HIV, 27 per cent had lost their fathers and 11 per cent their mothers due to HIV infection and six percent are orphans.
A district-wise analysis reveals the largest number of HIV-affected children were from North 24 Parganas (14.5 per cent), followed by South 24 Parganas ( 9 per cent), Kolkata, East Midnapore, Jalpaiguri and Darjeeling.
The study also revealed that 11 per cent children were infected through blood transfusion, while 83 per cent were infected by mother-to-child transmission. Although mother-to-child infection can be prevented, the report revealed 49 per cent of the mothers did not avail of the Prevention of Parent To Child Transmission (PPTCT) treatment.