10 September 2010
two days, 11 persons found HIV+ We have been getting three to five cases every month, but 11 cases at one go is huge.
Though alarming, the number is not unexpected, given the fact that Ballia is a high-risk district, with 410 patients testing positive in the last five years
THE Red Ribbon Express chugged out of Ballia district for Mau on Thursday. During its two-day stay, over 42,000 people paid a visit to the train plying to generate awareness about HIV/AIDS in the country.
According to the district health officials, the figure is the highest in the country. But alarmingly enough for the authorities, 11 people tested positive for HIV out of the 398 who availed of the testing facilities on the train.
Six of them were men and five women. While three were already aware of their positive status, the rest were not, said the officials.
Dr (Capt) AK Pandey, district incharge of the Control and monitoring of HIV/AIDS and Tuberculosis Officer, said: "We have been getting three to five cases every month, but eleven cases at one go is still huge. Though alarming, the number is not unexpected, given the fact that Ballia is a high-risk district, with 410 patients testing positive in the last five years."
With just the diagnostic facilities available in the district hospital, the positive patients have to travel all the way to Varanasi for medication and follow ups ¿ a reason why not more than 10 to 15 per cent of the patients have been taking proper treatment.
"The nearest Anti Retroviral Therapy (ART) center is at Banaras Hindu University," said Pandey.
"We do have an ART center here but it has been established two months ago. Not all patients can afford to visit BHU regularly."
The tests are done in the district hospital and it gets very difficult for patients from distant villages to come to the center. Two new testing centers were to open in Sikandarpur and Rasda Community health centers, which are at least 60 kms from the main town, but as of now the equipment has not reached the CHCs. "If the facility starts, it will make a difference in the district," he said.
A record of 23,353 people, meanwhile, visited the Red Ribbon Express on September 8. "This is the largest figure in the country so far. Before this, around 22,000 visitors had come to the train at Chennai," said Pandey.
"The train has created a lot of awareness among the people here.
But continuing the programme on a routine basis is a difficult task in this interior district."
Friday, Feb 24th
Last update:05:44:44 AM IST