04 may 2010
By Nazir Ganaie
NACO’s alarm found false; Dir Health says cases on decline
Contrary to the claims earlier made by the National AIDS Control Organization (NACO), the number of HIV positive cases in Kashmir valley is on decrease.
“The epidemic (AIDS) here is under control and Kashmir is the least hit area in the country,”Director Health Services and Project Director J&K State AIDS Prevention Control Society (JKSAPCS), Dr M A Wani told Rising Kashmir.
He asserted that last time prevalence of the epidemic in the valley was 1.2 per cent which has come down to 0.3 per cent at present.
“Last time we collected 7800 samples from various quarters of the state and none was found positive,”Wani informed.
Few months back NACO experts had warned of impending AIDS epidemic in the State if the killer virus goes unchecked. It was also speculated that 40,000 people would be infected with HIV in next two years. NACO had also predicted that the disease would kill 20,000 people in the State by the end of 2015.
However, Directorate of Health Services Kashmir claims that the situation is altogether different.
According to the official statistics, of the 4846 HIV test samples taken in the year 2008, only three persons were found positive, and in 2009, 4840 samples were taken and none was found positive.
Since 1997, when anti-retro viral treatment was launched in SKIMS Srinagar, 193 patients had tested positive for HIV virus. Most of the HIV infected people are in the age group of 15–45, with 65 per cent of them urban males.
“Though a small number of HIV positive patients are there, but it is not a big number as compared to 2.5 million HIV positive patients found in India,”the Director said.
Asked whether Jammu and Kashmir would be AIDS–free society, Wani said, “J&K is a tourism state and it is not possible to keep eye on all activities here which are responsible for this dreadful infection.”
However, some concerned health officials at SMHS Hospital fear that presence of large number of troops, thousands of migrant laborers, heavy tourist influx in recent years and concentration of truckers has broken the state’s envied status.
They said that over the years, majority of cases detected in SKIMS and other hospitals were from India’s paramilitary Border Security Force and Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF). Pertinently, off late army has been organizing workshops on HIV/AIDS for its men and their families.
Moreover, there are only seven hospitals– five in Srinagar and two in Jammu– having the facility for blood testing for HIV. This leaves the villages, where majority of the population resides, at the peril of the dreaded disease.
Friday, Feb 24th
Last update:05:44:44 AM IST