INDIANAPOLIS - Sunday is National Women and Girls HIV/AIDS Awareness Day and the Indiana State Department of Health is using the day to spread the word about a new campaign.
The campaign is called “1 Test 2 Lives” and it sends the message that with proper treatment of the mother, an unborn baby could be protected against HIV.
The campaign wants to educate healthcare providers and pregnant woman about the importance of early HIV screening and treatment.
“Not only does it not have to be a death sentence for the woman, but it doesn’t have to be a death sentence for the baby either,” said Andrea Perez from the Indiana State Department of Health.
Perez is the manager of the Indiana State Health Department’s HIV prevention program.
She said “1 Test 2 Lives” encourages all pregnant women to be screened for HIV and AIDS in the first trimester of their pregnancy.
“If we treat the mother, we can better prevent the transmission of HIV to her baby,” Perez said.
Since the AIDS epidemic began in the early 80s, there have been 826 reported cases of babies being infected by their mothers in Indiana.
Without proper treatment, there is a 25 percent chance that HIV will be transmitted from a mother to her baby.
Doctors said with appropriate intervention, such as medications or cesarean section deliveries, only 1 to 2 percent of pregnant women with HIV will transmit the virus to their unborn child.
“To spare a baby from facing a lifetime of medications and doctors and illnesses, it is the greatest advancement we’ve had against the spread of HIV/AIDS,” Dr. Elaine Cox said.
Cox, from Riley Hospital for Children, said the campaign will empower mothers to get help for themselves and their babies.
The health department said it is especially important to reach minority moms.
Indiana law says all pregnant women must be screened for HIV unless they specifically decline the test.