Wednesday, February 21, 2024

Nagaland sees decline in HIV prevalence

 Legislators Forum on AIDS (LFA)-Nagaland, state consultant, Dr. Vinito L. Chishi has revealed that, though slow progress, HIV prevalence in Nagaland has come down in the last five years. 

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Dr. Vinito said five years ago HIV prevalence rate for adults in Nagaland was at 1.25%, however, at present (till May 2018) the same was at 0.76% (source: NACO technical report). He said at present general populace prevalence rate was at 0.82% (source: NACO HSS 2014-15 report).

He, however, cautioned that since HIV prevalence rate keeps fluctuating, the rate might rise even next year if proper awareness and preventative measures were not taken.

Dr. Vinito was presenting a report on “Nagaland HIV & AIDS scenario (till May 2018)” Friday during the “social awareness day” of Trinity Theological College (TTC) Thahekhu, Dimapur.

He said the decrease in HIV prevalence may be due to effectiveness of awareness programme being held across the state but added that people cannot be content with the present prevalence rate as the threat was still prevalent.

Presenting a disturbing scenario of HIV prevalence in 11 districts of the state (April 2006 to May 2018), Dr. Vinito said Dimapur topped the list with 5.15% followed by Tuensang 2.53%, Kohima 2.52%, Kiphire 1.79%, Mokokchung 1.01%. Peren 0.96%, Phek 0.68%, Zunheboto 0.53%, Wokha 0.45%, Longleng 0.33% and Mon 0.22%. 

He said Tuensang in the last few years has seen a decrease in HIV prevalence while Dimapur presently at 5.15% has made a significant increase causing a concern.  

Dimapur being the commercial hub of Nagaland, Dr. Vinito said there was a surge of immigrants and tourist in the district which has risked the increase of HIV infection. He also expressed concern over increase in men who have sex with men (MSM) in Dimapur.

Dr. Vinito divulged that as of May 2018 since 2000 (cumulative figure), in Nagaland a total of 10, 46,767 adults have been tested (blood screened) for HIV out of which 23, 491 have been tested positive. A total of 32,358 children below 14 years have been tested out of which 999 have been tested positive.

He also expressed serious concern over rise in HIV case among children. Dr. Vinito said children as young as 14 years have been infected through sexual route and tested positive.

Quoting SIMS report from April 2016-March 2017, he said 15% of HIV positive in Nagaland belonged to the age group of 15-24 years while 6% were from <14 years. The most infected age group belonged to 25-34 years at 42% followed by 35-49 years at 31% while >=50 years are at 6%. 

Citing the routes of HIV transmission in Nagaland from April 2016-March 2017 (source: SIMS), he said 90% of transmission was through sexual route, 6% from parent to child, needle and syringes 1%, blood to blood 0% and 3% from unknown sources. 

He cited sexual intercourse with female sex workers (FSW), MSM, migrants and transgender as primary source of HIV infection in Nagaland while infection through injecting drug use (IDU) has decreased significantly in last few years.

The state consultant said sex workers, gay men, migrants, refuges, transgender people are more affected by HIV while FSW risks for 13 times higher, MSM 27 times higher, IDU 23 times higher and transgender women 12 times higher.

Dr. Vinito said since 2004 till May 2018, a total of 17, 301 have registered in Antiretroviral Therapy Centre (ARTC) out of which 11, 753 have started ART. Death of patients on ART has been recorded at 1561 while 7436 (including children) are recorded to be alive and on ART.

Calling upon the all sections of the society especially the Church to come forward and assist LFA-Nagaland in spreading awareness on HIV & AIDS, the state consultant cautioned that if the people failed to take preventive measures, then Nagaland would face the same fate of Africa.

Church being the ideal platform to create awareness, Dr. Vinito urged theologians, missionaries and church leaders to spread awareness on HIV & AIDS without stigmatizing people living with HIV. 

He asserted that though incurable HIV could be prevented and called upon education institutions across the state to form Red Ribbon Club and educate the students on HIV & AIDS.

Dr.Vinito also disclosed that Nagaland has joined the rest of the world to achieve UNAIDS three zeros target –Zero New HIV Infections, Zero Discrimination, and Zero AIDS-Related Deaths – by 2020.

Later, a presentation on “HIV & AIDS social concern” was given by LFA-Nagaland member, Hukatoli. The programme was attended by hundreds of TTC students and faculty at TTC chapel hall.


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