Coimbatore: Data released by the United Nations in 2017 brings to light that new cases of Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) infections in India have decreased by 46 per cent, and AIDS-related deaths have declined by 22 per cent since 2010 in the country.
In 2016, India had 80,000 new HIV infections compared to 1,50,000 in 2005, and 62,000 AIDS-related deaths compared to 1,50,000 in 2005. As far as numbers are concerned, Tamil Nadu that was counted as a state with a maximum number of people suffering from HIV/ AIDS has a lot to cheer.
Dr Senthil Raj, project director of the Tamil Nadu State AIDS Control Society (TANSACS) said, “Tamil Nadu is witnessing a decreasing trend with HIV positive cases. With 13,315 positive cases registered in 2015-16, the state recorded 11,809 in 2016-17 and the number fell to 8,718 cases in 2017-18.”
It was in Tamil Nadu that the HIV virus was detected for the first time in India in 1986 and the state, for several years, has been home to a maximum number of people being diagnosed with the virus. Since then on, the journey for the health department of the state to bring down the number of patients suffering from the virus has been remarkable.
Credit goes to government policies and infrastructure in place to successfully combat HIV. Every year, across the various centers in the state, more than four lakh people are tested for HIV. Dr Senthil Raj states that it is a misconception that patients tested positive for HIV will die. “Getting started with treatment at the right time and following the prescribed treatment can help the patient survive.” He does not rule out the fact that in our state, there still thrives a section of uneducated population who test positive for HIV but regularly visit quacks who assure a cure. Alongside, there is another group of the learned population who are in the first place hesitant to get themselves tested for the virus, leave alone starting getting treated. While lack of awareness keeps the former away from being treated for the virus, it is social stigma that prevents the latter from seeking medical help.
“Men, especially youth are highly prone to combating the virus. Bridge (migrant) populations are regarded as active carriers of the virus. Despite the fact that Tamil Nadu has witnessed a decline in the number of people suffering from HIV, it is surprising to learn that the state is among the 11 states in India which records prevalence rates higher than that of the national average,” Dr B Sunderan, district programme manager of the Coimbatore district AIDS prevention and control unit said....