Janssen, the pharmaceutical companies of Johnson & Johnson, today announced that Connect for Life, a human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) disease management programme, has been launched in partnership with Solidarity and Action Against The HIV Infection in India (SAATHII), an NGO working to strengthen HIV prevention, care, support and treatment interventions in India.
As part of the programme, Janssen would support the development of m-Maitri, an initiative to educate pregnant women on techniques to prevent mother-to-child HIV transmission. Based on the stage of their pregnancy, women will receive tailored voice messages to their mobile phones offering general advice and support on pregnancy as well as specific information about being pregnant and while HIV positive, according to a Janssen statement.
"Through Connect for Life's support for m-Maitri, we are looking to close some significant knowledge gaps that put many children at risk of being infected with HIV," said Dr Randeep Gill, Disease Management Programs Leader, Janssen.
"By connecting directly with mothers, the m-Maitri platform offers a discreet way to share potentially lifesaving information. Through our partnership with SAATHII, we will work to ensure that accurate, up-to-date information is available and accessible to support these women throughout their pregnancy and beyond."
The initiative would target the states of Andhra Pradesh and Telangana.
"These two areas have high HIV burden and see less than a quarter of women give birth in a health facility. Nationally, more than a quarter of people living with HIV are not aware that they have the virus, due to sub-optimal testing", according to the statement.
"Approximately 1,000 pregnant women with HIV will be engaged through a network of 200 private healthcare facilities and will be offered support for two years. Evidence-based health education materials will be provided to the women and to healthcare workers at the facilities. The programme will also enable easier and regular follow up with the women", it added.
The initiative will target the states of Andhra Pradesh
and Telangana. These two areas have high HIV burdens1 and see less than a quarter of women give birth in a health facility. Nationally, more than a quarter of people living with HIV are not aware that they have the virus, due to sub-optimal testing2. Approximately 1,000 pregnant women with HIV will be engaged through a network of 200 private healthcare facilities and will be offered support for two years. Evidence-based health education materials will be provided to the women and to healthcare workers at the facilities. The program will also enable easier and regular follow up with the women.
India has the third largest HIV epidemic in the world with an estimated 2.1 million people living with the virus, of which over 850,000 are women3. Of HIV-exposed infants, born to approximately 35,000 HIV positive pregnant women in 2015; an estimated 15-45% would have been infected with HIV in the absence of an appropriate intervention.
This number could be reduced to below 5% if all mothers and babies received appropriate care and treatment following international guidelines4. "Certain communities and states in India carry a high burden of HIV infections, with poorly linked care services and little education or support available for pregnant women," said Dr. L. Ramakrishnan, Vice President of SAATHII. "This vital partnership with Janssen's Connect for Life(TM) initiative comes at a critical time, allowing us to improve the care journey for women living with HIV throughout their pregnancy.
By collaborating with SAATHII in India, Janssen is
extending its commitment to addressing global unmet public health needs on a more focused and local basis. Such collaborations work to ensure solutions are appropriate for the region and that the needs of the community are understood so that the best outcome for patients are achieved. About Connect for Life(TM) Connect for Life(TM) is an initiative of the Janssen Pharmaceutical Companies of Johnson & Johnson, that engages in research partnerships with leading health advocates to improve the understanding of, and attitudes towards, diseases such as HIV, TB and other infectious diseases.
The program aims to address major challenges in disease management by placing the patient and their healthcare provider at the center of the decision making process and developing the necessary evidence base to guide national policy and clinical management, to in turn achieve lasting positive impact against some of the greatest public health challenges.