Meghalaya: 151 test HIV-positive in five months

HIV/AIDS testing centres in Meghalaya have detected 151 positive cases in five months, but experts say the number is not alarming.

Shillong: HIV/AIDS testing centres in Meghalaya have detected 151 positive cases in five months, but experts say the number is not alarming.

Between April and August this year, a total 2,616 persons were examined for HIV virus out of which 121 were found to be positive cases, a report from the Meghalaya Aids Control Society (MACs) said.

Pre-natal tests on 5,636 pregnant mothers also confirmed presence of the virus in 30 of them, the MACS said.

The testing was done in the 11 Integrated Counselling and Testing Centres in the district headquarters and two private hospitals in the capital city.

In the corresponding period last year, 41 people out of 931 people were tested HIV-positive in the ICTCs.

There are 344 people living with the virus till date in Meghalaya - 170 men, 162 women and 12 children. The state falls under category c, below the high prevalent states like
Manipur and Nagaland in the Northeast.

MACS project director Dr Amalendu Das said that though compared to last year the cases are three times more, percentage wise the prevalence is `static`.

"Due to more focus on awareness campaigns, more and more people are coming forward for testing and so the detection has been more. Eight NGOs were involved in working for preventing the spread of the deadly virus in the State, besides assisting in targeted intervention," he said.

Three NGOs are working in the coal belts of South Garo Hills, Lad Rymbai and Nongpoh up to Byrnihat. Three NGOs are working with the intravenous drugs users in Shillong and Jowai, and an NGO is looking after the migrant population while another NGO is working with female sex workers in Shillong.

Observing that female sex workers, migrant labourers and truckers were in the high risk group, Das said MACS would soon tie up with National Rural Health Mission to put up mobile ICTCs in the vulnerable zones.

"Pre and post-counselling are essential aspects and for this we have to create awareness for the people to come forward. Inaccessibility to the ICTCs is a major factor for
people`s reluctance to go in for tests. Hiding cases will lead to further spread of the disease," he cautioned.

Das also underscored the need for safe blood transfusion which, he said, is vital for preventing AIDS virus from spreading.

According to Dr Das, MACS will soon open two more Standard Antiretroviral Therapy Centres apart from the present which is functioning from the Civil Hospital, Shillong.

Tura and Jowai will have one each of such centre, he said.