By Chelluz Pahun
A recent health ministry report has revealed the number of infants with the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) has more than doubled in the last year.
According to the secretary-general of the National AIDS Eradication Commission (KPA), Nafsiah Mboy, the number rose from 354 cases in 2010 to 742 in 2011, the vast majority of the children being infected while still in their mother’s womb.
She said pregnant mothers with HIV bore at least a 30 percent risk of transmitting the virus to their babies.
“It is very dangerous. It means that if it is not dealt with immediately, hundreds of infants with HIV will die before they reach five,” she warned.
Bali province was cited as having one of the highest mother-to-fetus transmission rates.
Made Suprapta, secretary of the Bali chapter of the KPA, admitted the province has a problem with the rate of transmissions. Buleleng district, for example, had 80 cases last year, he said.
“That is only one district. I can assure you that there are hundreds of infants with HIV. We are doing our best to address this situation,” he said.
In Jakarta, state-run Dr Cipto Mangunkusumo Hospital has been taking care of many infants with HIV since 2007.
“Within the last two years, there have been 224 infants with HIV. Almost all of them were infected by their mothers,” Yudianto Budi Saroyo, an obstetrician at the hospital, said yesterday.
Unlike with adults, medical treatment of infants poses another problem, he said.
“There are dozens of medicines for adult patients with HIV, but there is only one which can be used for infants. This is very worrying,” he said.