11 May 2010
By Anju Agnihotri Chaba
PUNJAB tops the country when it comes to the transmission of HIV epidemic through injecting drug users (IDUs), figures released by the Punjab State AIDS Control Society (PSACS) have revealed. According to the data, the prevalence of HIV through IDUs in India is 9.19 per cent, but in Punjab, the percentage is 26.1 per cent, thrice the national figure.
Also, Amritsar district not only has the highest number of HIV cases in the state but is the number one district in the country with ‘HIV prevalence’ with the ‘per cent positivity’ of HIV standing at 30.4 per cent in the district, the highest figure in this category. At a programme organised here on Monday, Jalandhar Civil Surgeon Dr S K Gupta said there are various modes of HIV transmission, including unprotected sex, re–use of needles and syt ringes, HIV–infected blood and blood products. He said with the increase in number of drug addicts in the state, the IDU mode of HIV transmission has increased exponentially. The figure stood at 13.8 per cent in 2006 and had almost doubled at 26.1 per cent when last recorded in 2008, he added.
The PSACS has so far detected 19,583 HIV positive cases in the state since 1993, including 6,789 in Amritsar district alone. Dr Gupta said 13,807 HIV patients are missing, which further increases the danger of infection. "It is a big challenge for the health department to ensure that HIV patients do not go missing. They do so mainly due to fear, and themselves become a danger to society."
"The department is ready to provide all help to such patients. They should come forward as it will help them as well as the society," Dr Gupta emphasised.
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