02 December 2010
World AIDS Day
The best news about HIV is that there’s increasing awareness about the disease. City doctors attest to this fact – more young, financially stable persons are getting themselves screened for HIV.
These young people’s concern is understandable given their increased sexual activity, particularly under the influence of alcohol and without basic safety precautions.
Dr B Satish of Seva Free Clinic said: "The number of young patients could go up in the future, simply because youngsters earn a lot more than say 15 years ago. Under peer pressure, they also consume alcohol and cases of unprotected sex are high. Around 30 to 40 patients come for screening every day. In the past two months, I’ve seen many patients in the 20–25 years age group and earn around Rs 20,000 every month."
Most patients test negative with around 1% to 2% showing up positive. "It’s a small number but it can be avoided," he added.
According to Dr K S Sathish, chest and HIV physician, Fortis Hospitals, the number of cases are on the decrease but more people are getting themselves screened. "It’s not true that the number of urban young population affected by the disease is increasing. It’s well known that unprotected sex under the influence of alcohol is dangerous.
I think the urban population is much more vulnerable. Most patients I get are between 25 years and 40 years," he told TOI. Dr Sathish sees around 10 patients from middle and upper classes. In the districts, however, the number of young patients is high and they complain of poor access to Antiretroviral Therapy (ART).
About 50% of patients at Koppal, for instance, are between 18 years and 40 years. Most are in their twenties and not sex workers.
"Awareness among people has increased and they prefer to get themselves screened. The risk factors are friends who are HIV positive or even exposure to unsafe sex at a young age. But we’re not sure why it has increased," said Suvarna S Maregoudar, a counsellor at Samraksha Asha Jyoti Kushtagi, Koppal.
Dist hospitals show the way
Belgaum: The district government hospital of Belgaum and taluk government hospital of Gokak won the state award for the maximum number of deliveries of HIV positive mothers. From April to October, over 119 deliveries were done at the Belgaum district hospital while the Gokak hospital did 39 deliveries.
Sex Workers Slam AIDS Day Organizers, Seek Support
Bangalore: The World AIDS Day programme at Chitrakala Parishath by the Karnataka State AIDS Prevention Society (KSAPS) ran into a protest midway, by members of the Karnataka Sex Workers’ Union.
Around 50 activists barged into the venue on Wednesday and shouted slogans and waved black flags. They claimed that KSAPS was not paying heed to the issues faced by HIV–positive sex workers.
Shouting slogans against KSAPS and its joint director, the protesters demanded his dismissal and claimed that the director was "insensitive and rude". They also claimed that "KSAPS has been discriminating against sexual minorities and sex workers and collecting information from them without their consent".
"The organizers did not call sex workers for the function. The project to counsel sex workers is not done properly. They don’t keep our information confidential," said Tejaswini, general secretary, Sex Workers’ Union.
What They Demand
- Stop line testing
- Stop forced HIV testing
- Stop breaking confidentiality of people living with HIV
- Around 2.5 lakh HIV positive persons
- 50,358 on ART, a multi–drug therapy which increases life–span
- Prevalence in general population reduced from 1.5% in 2003 to 0.89% in 2008
- State still high prevalence states like Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, Manipur and Nagaland