Srinagar: The prevalence of HIV (Human Immunodeficiency Virus) that causes AIDS has slowly tightened its grip on Jammu and Kashmir as over 4609 patients including 179 kids have been tested HIV positive in the state so far.
The authorities here in J&K State AIDS Control Society (JKSACS) said that because of the social taboo, people are not coming to fore for the HIV tests and over the years number of patients infected by HIV has shown a rising trend.
The available government information reveals the total number of people facing the deadly disease in the Jammu and Kashmir as on August 2018 is 4609.
“In Government Medical College Jammu, infected people alive on ART is 2246 while in SKIMS Srinagar, 256 patients are alive on ART. In Kashmir region, including Leh, the prevalence of HIV is quite low,” the data reveals.
The information further reveals that 179 children below the age group of 15 years are also facing HIV aids in the state. “In GMC Jammu, 159 children while as in SKIMS Srinagar, 20 children facing HIV are alive on ART,” the information reveals.
Sources said that it has been seen that these children carried it from their parents while there were 225 widows in the state who had also been tested HIV positive.
Sources said that over the years, the number of HIV patients has witnessed an increase. Before 2011, the state had 2,573 HIV-positive patients. “In 2011-12, only 22 fresh cases of HIV-positive patients were registered with the society which witnessed an increase of 516 during 2012-13, 343 in 2013-14, 335 in 2014-15 and 302 in 2015-16,” the statistics of Aids and Control Department said.
Besides, sources in the AIDS Control Department said that more than 600 Army personnel, who fall in the category of ‘others’, have been tested HIV positive in the state.
Director, AIDS Control Society, Dr Mushtaq Ahmad told KNS that the total number of people who died so far in the state is 980.
Senior health officials expressed concern over youth falling in the trap of drug mafias. “The drug menace has attained an alarming proportion in the state. While the use of drugs is a major reason for HIV transmission mainly in the Kashmir valley, female sex workers, truckers and labourers are the main transmitters in the Jammu region,” the official said.
The other major causes of being affected by the virus are blood transfusion, unprotected sex and multi-person usage of needles,” sources opined.
Sources said that most of the HIV-positive patients registered in the state have contracted the disease from outside the state.
HIV/AIDS have emerged as the most challenging epidemic for the world. It has spread across the length and breadth of India and the rate of infection has been contained by the concerted efforts of NACO through SACS.
NACO categorized all the states in three main categories viz, high, moderate and low prevalence states. J&K State is a low prevalence state.
Sources said that the unique geographical and socio economic characteristics have made the state vulnerable in respect of the spread of HIV/AIDS.
“J&K State is a tourist state and the visitors from all over the country and from abroad visit J&K. Most of the visitors come from affluent states of the country which include the states having high prevalence of HIV/AIDS. Hence, this state is at a greater risk of HIV AIDS because of being the tourist destination,” sources said.
Sources further said that truck drivers are considered as one of the important factors for HIV transmission in the J&K State. “As there is no rail link between Jammu, Srinagar and Ladakh, truckers play a major role for carrying commodities and other stocks from different parts of the country to the state of J&K. (KNS)