10,394 HIV/AIDS positive cases in Nagaland

DIMAPUR, Nov 5 – HIV/AIDS scenario in Nagaland is showing a disturbing trend with 10,394 positive cases and 515 AIDS related deaths reported this year.

What is more disturbing is that the sexual route, accounting for 84 per cent of the new cases during the first quarter of 2010, has been identified as the major cause for rapid spread of the virulent disease.

Uncontrolled influx of immigrants, risky lifestyle of youngsters and the State being located geographically close to Myanmar, where the scale of the epidemic is one of the biggest in Asia, are stated to be the chief factors that are propelling the prevalence rate.

Dimapur district with large mixed population contributes to more than 50 per cent of the total number detected as HIV positive in the State. In the recent survey in Dimapur alone, within 11 months time, there are 832 HIV positive cases and number of positive delivery is 44.

People in the age group of 28-34 years are the main victims who fall to this dreaded disease comprising 47 per cent of the total infected population, Nitoshe Nekha, District Supervisor, NSACS, Dimapur, said.

The number of positive cases could be more than the actual figure mentioned in the statistics since many infected persons are avoiding tests for fear of stigma and discrimination in the society. “We gather figure from ICTC centres where patients voluntarily come for check ups. We do not force anybody for HIV test. We refer patients for test only when we suspect certain symptoms,” he said.

The facilities and services are available in the Integrated Counselling and Testing Centres and mobile ICTCs located across 11 districts.

The NSACS had earlier stated that “If tests were done on the total 20 lakh population of Nagaland, there could be a possibility of two lakh showing positive, many of whom are not aware and could be spreading the epidemic.”

Till September 2010, the HIV prevalence rate is 1.20 per cent. Nagaland Legislators’ Forum on HIV&AIDS (NLFA), established in 2007, had expected the prevalence rate of HIV to come down below one per cent by the end of the year 2008, but even after two years of the target year the prevalence rate remains almost the same.

The Nagaland State AIDS Control Society (NSACS) is of the view that HIV positivity rate in Dimapur is showing an increasing trend whereas it is almost stable in the rest of the State.

Since infection through sexual route is the major concern, NSACS in collaboration with various NGOs have distributed thousands of free condoms during their aggressive campaigns against HIV/AIDS.

There is an urgent need for churches and civil organisations to come together and jointly fight against the disease. NGOs and government alone cannot be expected to manage the appalling situation which is posing a great threat to the society, a member of an NGO asserted.

The world communities have committed to achieve the Millennium Development Goal of reversing the HIV epidemic by 2015. With just five years left, the State needs to sit up and rethink whether with its sluggish performance, it would be able to keep pace with the rest of the world in achieving the global goal.

Source: The Assam Tribune

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