"The challenges faced by children are multifaceted and requires a response that extends beyond prevention and treatment," Advocacy Associate of World Vision, India Daisy David, said in an interactive session with the media here.
In the North-East, Manipur, Nagaland and Assam are the high HIV and AIDS prone states and although cases of HIV have come down by 50 per cent in India during the last ten years, the scenario is quite dismal in the region and a matter of concern, she said.
In Manipur, there are 38,016 HIV positive people with 2,578 of them being children, in Nagaland there are 11,374 HIV positive people with 2442 being children and 318 of them below the age of 14 while in Assam, there are an estimated 1900 HIV people, including 150 children.
The urgent issues that need immediate attention include child and women specific diagnosis and easy access to quality care, support and treatment under various social schemes of the government, pointed out a person (not divulging his name) from Nagaland who has been affected by the disease.
"There is also the need to scale-up early warning indicators and drug resistance surveillance with follow and mechanisms for better health of children," David said.
Immediate attention should be paid to strengthen the Prevention of Parent to Child Transmission (PPTCT) programme with proper follow-up care and ensure follow-up for mother and infant and scaling-up of PPTCT programme at all private clinics.
Nutritional support for HIV affected families from poor economic background, speedy process of treatment and care for children with close monitoring of all children on Anti-Retroviral Therapy (ART) and effective counselling for positive mothers on child care should also be stressed upon, Assam Network''s Coordinator Jahnobi Goswami pointed out.
Above all, the most important need was to reduce stigma for children in health care set up and access to counselling and social protection, she said.
Another problem being faced by PLHIVs is that though the government is giving first line and second line ART for free, access to treatment centres was very difficult for the affected people, Goswami, also affected by the disease said.
The PLHIVs have also urged National Aids Control Organisation (NACO) to remove the second line ART eligibility procedure as line treatment modalities was getting affected and also timely intervention was proving to be a big challenge, David added.
The stakeholders also suggested that Stavudine should be immediately phased out from the first-line regimen in the tune with the World Health Organisation (WHO) recommendation owing to its long term irreversible toxicities and side effects.
She also urged the government to create a platform for Greater Involvement of People Living with HIV/AIDS (GIPA) both at the state and national level as it would go a long way in reducing myths around the disease.