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Rude Shock For UP

Times of India
10 September 2010
By Shailvee Sharda
Lucknow, India

8 persons test HIV positive in a single day
It’s a case of a moving train and a burning issue. As many as eight persons tested positive to HIV infection in a single day at a testing camp organised with the Red Ribbon Express, the train which is travelling to different cities of UP these days. What has set the alarm bells ringing is that all the cases have been reported from Ballia district of UP.

Rude Shock For UP
Red Ribbon Express has travelled to the cities of Chaupan, Allahabad, Varanasi, Jaunpur, Akbarpur (Ambedkarnagar) and Ballia in UP. Presently, it is stationed at Mau.

" We have never seen so many persons testing positive to HIV in a single camp in any state. High prevalence states (Maharashtra, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh) are of course an exception," chief executive officer, Red Ribbon Express, Mohnish Kumar told TOI.

He said a total 398 persons reported at the camp for testing of which 11 tested positive to the infection. " Of those who tested positive, three were already aware of their condition but got themselves re-tested for a confirmation," added Kumar.

Notably, officials and NGOs estimate put the number of HIV positive people in UP at 56,000. " But there is a bigger reason for the authorities to worry," said Suman Jana of an NGO. " The rate with which HIV positive persons are converting into AIDS patients is increasing fast," Jana added.

Figures from National AIDS Control Society support Jana’s view. The NACO annual report cites that till January 2010, the total number of HIV patients alive and on anti retroviral therapy (ART) stood at 10,633. In April, the number swelled to 11,765, which means an addition of 1,132 cases including 50 children, in three months.

Meanwhile, chief medical officer, Ballia, Dr Sunil Bhartiyain said counselling sessions for all the persons who have tested positive to HIV have begun. " We have now asked them to report at the district hospital for further examination and advice," he said.

Dr Bhartiyain shared that most of HIV positive persons include marginal labourers who migrate to states of Maharashtra and Punjab in search of work. A few of them travel to Bihar too for livelihood. Pointedly, experts working for control of HIV/AIDS say the migrant population of UP is the main cause behind the increase in the incidents of HIV infection.

Risk Factors In UP
  • A large population living below the poverty line
  • Large presence of high-risk groups at targeted interventions
  • Over 50,000 truckers on eight national highways
  • Over 8,000 sex workers
  • A large migrant population
  • Long, porous Indo-Nepal border Low HIV/AIDS awareness among rural women, though there has seen some improvement now
  • Over 20% slum population in 69 cities and towns.
(Source: Report titled ‘Facts, Figures & Response to HIV/AIDS in Uttar Pradesh’, published by UP State Aids Control Society and Partners).

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