Around 41.3 per cent of HIV-positive pregnant women received antiretroviral treatment for either less than one month of pregnancy or after delivery due to the deeply-embedded stigma in society, as well as lack of family support, a new study by Indian Council Medical Research (ICMR), National AIDS Research Institute and Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS) reveals.What is even more concerning is that more than 50 per cent of the babies of HIV-positive mothers were reported to be beyond the stipulated period of six to eight weeks for HIV testing under the Early Infant Diagnosis (EID) component of the National AIDS Control Programme (NACP.)So, they miss the opportunity of early HIV diagnosis and subsequent initiation of ART treatment. Though 94.3 per cent of women were on ART treatment, 41 per cent of them got treated late in pregnancy, Dr Suchit Kamble, principal investigator of the study toldThe Indian Express. HIV can be transmitted from mother to baby, during pregnancy, at birth and even after birth. Thus, EID becomes incredibly important to reduce the risk of perinatal HIV transmission. According to the study, the transmission rate has reduced from 30 per cent to five per cent. EID is reported to reduce infant mortality due to HIV infection. India is trying to eliminate the mother to child transmission of HIV (EMTCT) and aims for universal access to HIV testing for all, this study says that we are still way behind, as Dr Nilesh Gawade, co-principal investigator from TISS, Mumbai, pointed out.HIV Infections Rates Not Slowing Down?According to a report by the United Nations group, infection rates of HIV are not slowing down enough to reach the goal of completely eradicating AIDS by 2030. Many of these missing pieces to fight HIV are also allowing the COVID-19 pandemic to continue and leaving us dangerously unprepared for pandemics of the future, said UNAIDS executive director Winnie Byanyima.The report highlighted urgent priorities to get on track including providing access to preventative equipment like condoms and clean needles, as well as support for community-based health services. This crisis... is also an unprecedented opportunity to learn from past mistakes and mobilise the leadership and investment needed for a comprehensive global framework that can end inequalities, end AIDS and end pandemics, Byanyima pointed out.UNAIDS said HIV/AIDS could cause death to 7.7 million people between 2021 and 2030 if the availability of preventative measures and treatments dont scale up.