AIDS awareness intensifies in HP


By M.L.Verma


Shimla, Dec 01: Himachal Pradesh has registered 1563 cases of AIDS till today. According to state health indicators, HIV infection rate has declined during last five years significantly, as recent studies by NACO placed Himachal among least HIV prevalent state. However, number of HIV positive cases being reported from various parts of the state was increasing and the credit goes to awareness programmes and services that are being imparted by Integrated Counseling Testing Centers (ICTCs). The number of ICTCs has also gone up to 49. In addition to this, 66 round the clock new HIV testing centers at Primary Health Centers level were being set up in the state. Two ICTCs vans have also been put down on the road recently to make the awareness and testing facility available at the doorstep to remote and far off villages.

NACO sponsoring and pumping funds to State Aids Control Society also runs HIV and AIDS awareness programmes in this hill state but, it is yet to strive hard in this direction. Increasing education and awareness among masses especially with help of electronic media has brought tremendous change in the mind set of prople, as they were now coming out voluntarily for HIV tests. Blood samples of 3,29,900 people have been tested in last three years through 46 ICTC centers. The emphasis was being given to bring all pregnant mothers under HIV testing ambit, so that its infection could be checked and controlled along with birth line. As many as 117179 pregnant ladies have been tested for HIV in between 2008-2011. State was offering free Anti Retroviral Therapy (ART) for 1571 HIV positive and AIDS patients at Indra Gandhi Medical College Hospital, Dr Rajinder Prassad Medical Colllege Tanda, in Kangra and Hamirpur district hospital, moreover eight link ART centers have been setup at Nahan, Bilaspur, Kullu, Una, Nalagarh Mandi, Chamba and Solan also distributing free medicines to HIV positives.

As many as 16 STI clinics were working in the state, providing free colour kits to treat patients affected by sexually transmitted diseases (STDs). In order to socially fight the stigma of this disease, about 250 red ribbon clubs and 257 Nehru Youth Kender have been founded and linked with special drive being carried out by Aids Control Society according to NACO guidelines. Red ribbon clubs were being founded on the college level to create awareness among students themselves, as youth are more vulnerable to HIV infection. In order to check and control the migration of HIV with blood transfusion, efforts were being made to ensure 100 percent pure blood transfusion to patients in the hospitals. Four Blood transfusion vans have been deployed in the state; besides blood donation vans were collecting the blood from various blood camps to cater to the requirement.

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