ibnlive » India

Jul 03, 2007 at 01:12pm IST

Docs won't let HIV+ woman breastfeed baby

Meerut: Last week, doctors refused to attend to an HIV-positive pregnant woman, Raziya, after which her husband, Raees, was forced to deliver his child.

The man and his pregnant wife had come to the Meerut Medical College Hospital on Wednesday, but were denied treatment after the doctors found out the woman was HIV positive.

“The doctors had said that they would get AIDS, so they would not help us. I helped my wife deliver the baby,” Raees had told CNN-IBN.

The matter was taken up by the media and NGOs and the doctors in question were suspended, but it seems as if the battle is not yet over for Raees and Razia.

Painful though the attitude of untouchability during her delivery, what is more painful now for the woman is that the doctors have stopped her from breastfeeding her child.

They fear that the child might get infected with the HIV virus as well if breastfed and the five-day-old baby is being given powdered milk as of now.

Outraged local NGOs and social workers have come to the aid of the hapless couple saying that being HIV positive does not mean one cannot breastfeed their child.

Says Director, UP Centre of Positive People, Mukesh Singh, "There's a trace of the virus in the breast milk of HIV positive mothers, but not enough to affect the child."

However, ART Centre Co-ordinator, Dr Vishwajit, contradicts this saying, "There is a 35 per cent chance of contracting AIDS for babies who have been breastfed by HIV positive mothers, as opposed to babies who are not. The figures speak for themselves."

While India spends millions on AIDS awareness, for many people being HIV positive continues to spell untouchability.

Last week, the doctors had refused to touch the mother or even admit her into the labour room, forcing Raees to help deliver the baby himself.