Odisha Sun Times Bureau
Bhubaneswar, Sep 13:
With over 3500 people in Odisha getting infected by HIV/AIDS every year, health experts have raised a red flag over the recorded increase in the prevalence of the dreaded disease in the state. Ganjam tops the list of new infected persons and mortality rate in the state.
As per available official data, over 35, 000 persons have been infected with HIV/AIDS and more than 1400 of them have died across the state in the last 23 years.
The first HIV positive patient was identified in the state in 1992. The report published by National Aids Control Organisation (NACO) had revealed that the only infected person was found in Nayagarh district.
HIV prevalence is the highest in Ganjam district, ranked 14th in the country, with about 43% of the infected people in the state. Most migrant labourers from Odisha move to industrial towns of Surat and Mumbai in search of work where they engage in unprotected sex and get infected. Transmission of the virus through unsafe sex is the prime reason behind the number of infections in the state, surveys reveal.
There are about 35, 690 HIV positive patients in Odisha of which 21, 920 are male and 13, 770 female. A staggering 29, 600 people were infected due to unprotected sex with unknown partners. On the other hand, the number of infected patients due to blood transfusion is as low as 420 of which 274 are male and 146 are female. Besides, 609 people got affected due to use of infected needles. While 2106 were born with HIV infection from their infected parents, 1041 persons were infected due to other reasons.
The statistics of district-wise infected persons and deaths due to HIV/AIDS shows that Ganjam leads the chart with 12, 597 infected persons and 454 deaths followed by Cuttack with 4700 infected persons and 46 deaths, Koraput with 1948 infected persons and 150 deaths, Sambalpur with 1876 infected persons and 34 deaths, Khurdha with 1717 infected persons and 51 deaths, Anugul with 1234 infected cases and 71 death cases, Bolangir with 833 infected cases and 61 deaths, Bhadrak with 712 infected cases and 78 deaths. While the pilgrim town of Puri recorded 699 infected cases, the number of deaths was recorded at 67. Kendrapara district recorded 377 infected cases and 74 death cases.
As per NACO and ICMR, there has been a significant decline in the number of new HIV infections across the country. However, the number is assuming alarming proportions in Odisha.
When contacted, project director of Odisha State AIDS Control Society (OSACS) Babaji Charan Das refused to comment on this. However, he insisted that HIV/AIDS infection is under control in the state.
States including Odisha, Jharkhand, Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal, Gujarat, Chhattisgarh, Rajasthan, Punjab and Uttarakhand were considered less HIV/AIDS prone states in the 90s. As per a study conducted by NACO and Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), the killer infection has been brought under control on a pan-India basis. However, the trend in states like Odisha, Jharkhand, Punjab, Assam and Uttarakhand is diametrically opposite.
As per the report, around 3,500 new people are found to be HIV positive in Odisha every year. During 2009-10, about 19,647 tested positive for AIDS. The number shot up to 23,535 during 2010-11, reached 27,000 during 2011-12 and crossed 30,176 in 2012-13. Till October last year, the tally had reached 33,515 and is feared to have crossed 35, 000 mark by the end of 2014.
The spread of HIV infection in Odisha has been attributed to inter-state migration. Migrant labourers from the state have been moving to other states in search of work in industries and brick kilns. Besides, lack of awareness among women labourers is a major reason for the spread of the infection, experts opine.