Shimla: Spoken of in hushed tones, incidence of HIV positive persons is showing a rise in numbers as more and more screening centre come up in the state, helping to map the gravity of the disease spread and provide for interventions to contain it.
Rajiv Bindal, health minister disclosed that between March 2006 to July 2009, 2139 HIV positive cases have were detected.
â€œWhereas there were only 15 Integrated Counselling & Testing Centre (ICTC) in 2006, now there are 44 of them, which was helping to identify more people who are inflicted with the dreaded virus, he said.â€
As more of the screening centres have become functional the HIV numbers are rising. In 2006-07 there were 530 cases, in 2007-08 they increased to 590, in 2008-09 they were 770 and between April to 15th July 2009, already 249 fresh cases stand detected.
Narinder Sharma of the HP Voluntary Health Association, an NGO said, the real picture of the disease prevalence would only emerge after more target intervention projects are implemented to timely screening HIV patients before they turn into full blown AIDS cases.
With more ICTCâ€™s opening up, voluntarily testing for knowing ones HIV status is going up, said Suniti Ganju, from HP State AIDS control society.
Since March, this year about 15,000 people have got themselves screened other than the 11,000 ante-natal mothers who have been tested, she said. In 2008-09 about 50,000 people were tested of which about 17,000 were ante-natal mothers, said Ganju.
To take stock of the AIDS control program, a World Bank team from Department of International Development (DFID) and National AIDS Control Organisation had assessed the ground situation, last May.
Under the annual action plan an amount of Rs 11.27 crore has been marked for AIDS control for 2009-10.
Alarmed by the rise in this disease incidence and the social tensions it was causing, chief minister Prem Kumar Dhumal had even mooted making HIV screening mandatory for couples before they got married.
For treating HIV patients, the health authorities have set up another Antiretroviral Therapy (ART) centre in Hamirpur. One already exists in the state capital.
Since launch of the National AIDS control program in the 1990â€™s, a total of 3530 HIV cases stand tested in Himachal and there have been about 600 cases of reported full blown AIDS cases. Not more that 60 deaths from AIDS have been recorded with us, says Suniti Ganju.
District wise 3 year HIV Positive data
Source: Health Minister Rajiv Bindalâ€™s Reply To Vidhan Sabha Question No 1300 Dated 20.8.2009
As Editor, Ravinder Makhaik leads a team of media professionals at Hill Post.
Spanning a career of over two decades in mass communication, as a Documentary Filmmaker, TV journalist, Print Media journalist and with Online & Social Media, he brings with him a vast experience. He lives in Shimla.