Punjab

HEALTH

HIV positive cases up by 38% in five years

PUNJAB NEWSLINE NETWORK
December 01, 2018 12:47 PM

PATIALA: The number of HIV (human immunodeficiency virus)-positive cases in the state has gone up by 38.4 per cent in five years — from 4,863 in 2012-13 to 6,730 in 2017-18.

The figures are based on data gathered from government hospitals. The state programme under the National AIDS Control Organisation (NACO) was launched in 1992.
Punjab State AIDS Control Society project director B Srinivasan said, “The rise (in five years) is due to the strengthening of the detection process. More than 320 ICTCs (integrated counselling and testing centres) have been opened in the state. Punjab’s prevalence rate is 0.18 per cent, while the national average is 0.22 per cent.”

According to experts, HIV-infection cases in recent years were mainly among People Who Inject Drugs (PWID).

Despite the awareness campaigns, there is still social stigma associated with HIV. “People believe that HIV is largely a sexually transmitted disease,” says Sampuran Singh, Senior Medical Officer at the Anti-Retroviral Therapy (ART) centre of Government Rajindra Hospital.

Dr Meenakshi, a counsellor, says, “People still try to conceal the disease as they fear being ostracised and thrown out of their homes and villages.”

An HIV patient at the local centre said, “After we (husband-wife) tested positive, we were told not to share utensils with other family members. People generally shun our company.”

Since the setting up of the State AIDS Control Society in 1998, 7,623 HIV-related deaths have been reported so far in the state.

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