By Y.S. Rana, Hamirpur :
No political party had ever since independence spared a space in their election manifestos for AIDS and corruption. Now these have acquired such enormity these have made inroads in every section of society and pose big challenge to the survival of the nation.
Year 2010 is not ended with a happy note especially for the Hamirpur district of Himachal Pradesh as it has recorded 24 AIDS deaths highest number of AIDS deaths in the State.
Despite extensive efforts soul of State Government seems to be missing from the ongoing fight against AIDS and the menace is spreading its pangs all over the state.
A small district of the state but with the highest literacy rate and the constituency of the chief minister, Prem Kumar Dhumal, has recorded the highest number of AIDS deaths in 2010 in the State.
With two more AIDS death last week in the district, Hamirpur has recorded 24 AIDS death, maximum in the state during the year. Two more AIDS patients are in critical condition. Number of AIDS patients in the district has been increasing and has already dubious status of having maximum AIDS death in the state. In 2009-10, there were 886 HIV/AIDS cases and there were 134 AIDS deaths in the state.
According to the Volunteer Counseling and Testing Centre (VCTC) located in the civil hospital recorded around 20 suspected cases per month in the district. Most suspected AIDS cases belong to the age group of 15-30 in case of women and 30-44 in case of men.
Spread of HIV in Himachal Pradesh has been uneven. Though the state has a low rate of infection but certain places have been more affected. HIV epidemics are more severe in district Kangra and Hamirpur with highest number of HIV positive cases.
According to official datas, district Kangra tops the list with 1271 HIV positive cases of which 306 are AIDS cases, followed by district Hamirpur with 857 HIV positive cases of which 115 are AIDS cases.
The figures provided by the State AIDS Control Society, the infection prevalence rate is less than one per cent of the total population. There are about 6000 HIV positive cases in the State and number of HIV positive persons on record are 4829 of which 540 are full blown cases. It is also estimated that about 580 children have lost their parents to the disease in the State.
Figures given by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare gave a wake-up call as the state is heading towards among the states with highest number of HIV/AIDS case.
The prevalence rate among males is 0.23 per cent and 0.16 per cent among females in the state which are less than the national average of 0.36 per cent among males and 0.25 per cent among women. Whereas Punjab has 0.37 among males and 0.28 among females; Haryana 0.17 and 0.07 per cent and Chandigarh has 0.46 and 0.29 per cent.
It is higher than Haryana (0.17 %) and Jammu and Kashmir (0.09 %) males infected with HIV. If we take women, the HIV PR among women in the State is 0.16 per cent. It is also higher than Haryana (0.07 %) and J & K (0.06 %).
An official of the AIDS Control Society stated that 160 Red Ribbon Clubs have been set up in colleges and technical institutes, 73 at block levels in the state. The Health Department of the State has also trained 3310 anganwari workers and 1200 volunteers of NGOs to spread awareness among the people. The state has spent Rs 1290 lakh for this purpose during 2008-09, said the official.
An official said that the government was only providing free treatment for the first stage. The second stage treatment was costly and hence the poor patients cannot afford the treatment. However it is not just about information and awareness, it is all about changing attitude and this is where much progress has not been made in the state.
In such a scenario, state government should avoid the policy of playing fast and loose with the situation. EOM.