DIMAPUR, Nov 6 – There are around 12,400 people affected by HIV/AIDS in Nagaland, out of which a total of 7,500 are registered in different ART centres to avail treatment.
At least 7-8 people out of every thousand will be infected with the deadly virus in the State. This figure has been projected going by the total number of people testing positive in the State.
The State’s trajectory, when compared with that of the country’s ratio, is in a very vulnerable situation. India stands only at 3-4 person infected for every thousand.
This was revealed by Dr Hutoka, Medfical Officer in-charge ART Centre, District Hospital Dimapur, during the sensitisation programme on HIV/AIDS at Signal Angami village here.
The awareness programme was organised by the District AIDS Prevention & Control Unit (DAPCU) under NSACS in collaboration with the Legislators’ Forum on AIDS Nagaland.
Dr Hutoka stated that although the prevalence rate has been projected as having come down with the State now standing at 0.78 per cent, the ground situation seems otherwise.
Judging by the number of people being tested positive everyday, it appears that infection rate is not lessening but rather increasing relentlessly, he stated.
Infection through sexual route still remain the highest with more than 90 per cent of the reported cases while three per cent are through infected needle, four per cent from parent to child transmission and one per cent through unexplained circumstances.
Earlier, when HIV/AIDS was first detected in Nagaland in 1994, the main transmission route was through drug injecting users, which nowadays has comparatively lessened.
With regard to the age factor, 80 per cent of those tested positive are between 25-49 years of age followed by 15-24 age category with 12 per cent and over 50 years category at 4 per cent.
Dimapur still has the highest infection rate in the State with detection of over 3,500 positive. Around 1,500 of those tested positive are availing treatment at the ART centres in Dimapur.
Expressing serious concern that HIV/AIDS is becoming one of the highest causes of death, the MO said a total of 127 HIV patients availing ART medicines have died since its inception in 2006.
Most HIV related deaths occur because they (patients) come for assistance and to avail ART medicine to ICTC’s and ART centres only when they are in the last stage.
“I have been observing that this is another grave concern. Most of the HIV positive people come to avail of the much needed medicines only in the later stage of their infection,” Dr Hukato said. “If it’s delayed, medicinal benefits will lessen and the chances of patient’s survival are poor. Early detection is very important,” he added.
Another issue is the need for timely blood test, which most of the Nagas are apprehensive to come forward for owing to a number of reasons, particularly the stigma attached with the illness.
Early detection is also important to keep the infection rate in check, the doctor stressed.
Furthermore, in order to decrease HIV infection risk, he informed that a medication known as Post-Exposure Prophylaxis (PEP) is also available at the ART centres. While the drug cannot give 100 per cent guarantee, it is reported to decrease the incidence of sero-conversion and HIV infection.