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High on numbers

24 May. 2018 12:41 AM IST

There is a sense of foreboding that the lifestyle of the risk-taking generation in the state could add to a worst case scenario in the next few decades if HIV is not checked more effectively. According to the latest information, Nagaland has a prevalence rate of 0.76% among adults, which is third highest in the country. Nagaland has 22,878 ‘People living with HIV (PLHIV) and AIDS cases, disclosed an official of Nagaland State AIDS Control Society (NSACS). At a recent sensitization programme for mediapersons, NSACS deputy director Dr. Vezokholu Theyo disclosed that as per study, conducted between early 1999 and 2018, it was found that the Manipur has the highest HIV prevalence rate among adults in the country at 1.06%, followed by Mizoram at 0.79%. In Nagaland, which has a population of around 20 lakh, it was said, 10,16,700 blood samples were screened between 1999 to 2018. Of that 22,878 have reported positive. Besides states like - Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra, Karnataka, Gujarat, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Tamil Nadu, West Bengal and Rajasthan – which account for 82% of PLHIV cases; the northern eastern region is also a prominent area where prevalence is high. The ratio is indeed high in the north east. Earlier, Manipur had the distinction of having the highest prevalence rate. Nagaland also begun to make itself also prominent and that had led to an urgent action to prevent further spread. In all likelihood there may have been some impact though it is too early to suggest or even claim that the responsive action has been successful. The other aspect of negating the fight has been the attitude of some states which continue to fight shy about admitting they could also have high prevalence. State like Assam cannot ignore or wish away the potential of being another high prevalence state. Since all states in the region are contiguous and since Assam if the meeting point or gateway, there is every reason to undertake a serious survey and study of HIV in the state. Even Meghalaya and Arunachal Pradesh or Tripura should make all out efforts to trace the ground reality about HIV prevalence in their respective states. It has been widely recorded that worldwide, four young people between the ages of 15 and 24 contract HIV every minute -about 6,000 every day. Of those more vulnerable are females. According to the UN AIDS Report in 2016, the unequal position of women in most societies, disturbing levels of sexual abuse, violence and exploitation, and women’s vulnerability to HIV infection are all fuelling the “feminization” of the epidemic. The phases of awareness, care and treatment have been completed yet the dreaded disease continues to rage. Of particular concern is the vulnerability of young people with regard to Dimapur. It may be stated that being the gateway of both Nagaland and Manipur, Dimapur is a transit site and so a lot needs to be done. Presence of a large number of immigrant workers, injecting drug users, boys and girls involved in commercial sex trade and increasing number of young people coming from other rural areas certainly make Dimapur a challenging task for HIV&AIDS awareness, prevention and care etc. The State AIDS Control Society has to take a review of the strategy and where improvement is needed so as to spell out a specific target to channelize adequate resources to respond to the challenges at various levels.

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