High risk category still a major AIDS concern
Ankita Chakrabarty/ Zee Research Group
Post India’s claim to have reduced heavily the death toll rate because of AIDS among ordinary civilians, the challenge of redeeming the high risk category still looms large with states like Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra and Karnataka continuing to present high number of Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) cases.
According to the National Aids Control Organization (NACO) report 2011, the number of HIV cases detected in the year 2011-12 (until September 2011) stood at 1, 57,347 and the number of deaths at 14,421. The primary drivers of HIV epidemic in India are commercial female sex workers, unprotected sex between males who have sex with males, and drug use through injections.
The report said India had reduced by 56 per cent the death toll due to the disease in 2010-11. It profiled the cases as under: 1,768 HIV AIDS cases in female sex workers, 701 in men having sex with men and 113 cases among truck drivers.
The NACO report further pointed out that while in the year 2010-11, 3,17,336 cases of HIV were detected the number fell to 1,57,347 in the year 2011-12 (until September2011). Also, the number of deaths reported in the year 2010-11 was 30,047 but it declined to 14,421in the year 2011-12.
During 2010-11 Andhra Pradesh had 504 cases of HIV/AIDS among female sex workers while Maharashtra had 280 and Karnataka 225, respectively. In male to male sex category, there were 146 cases of HIV/AIDS reported in Maharashtra while Karnataka reported 111 and Andhra Pradesh accounted for 77 cases respectively.
Dr SP Byotra, chairperson medicine at Sir Ganga Ram Hospital, Delhi said, “The work done by National Aids Control Organization is really appreciative. The various initiatives like National Aids Control Programme launched by NACO have been really effective in combating this deadly disease.”
However, the efficacy of the official data and claims in this regard are being doubted. Said Anjali Gopalan, executive director at Naz Foundation, a non-profit organization working on sexual health, “We are witnessing that a lot more people are affected daily but the figure goes unnoticed. The claim that India has fared well as the HIV infections have fallen by 56 per cent is totally absurd and it is only on paper.”
A detailed state wise analysis further revealed that southern states like Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh have fared well by reducing the number of HIV positive cases. In the year 2009 Andhra Pradesh recorded 4,99,620 number of people infected with HIV but the number reduced to 96,033 as on September 2011. Also, the figure for Karnataka in 2009 was 2,45,522 and the latest figure of people suffering from AIDS stood at 63,597.
“Awareness at school and college level has really helped a lot in minimizing the number of AIDS cases. NACO’s initiative in the red light areas has helped combat this deadly disease,” added Byotra at Ganga Ram Hospital.
As of March 2011 nearly 4.5 lakh people living with HIV in India including 26,238 children, were receiving free Anti Retroviral Treatment (ART) at around 1,000 ART centres and Link ART Centres in the country.
Siddhartha, director at Aids Awareness Group (AAG), another AIDS focus NGO said, “People suffering should go for ART treatments as prescribed under NACO guidelines. The routine should be followed without any break.”
“It’s high time that one should talk about this disease freely. Parents should discuss the issue with their children. Schools should have special counselling sessions,” added Gopalan, underlining the importance of education and communication in eliminating the disease.