Need to treat people with HIV/AIDS with understanding and compassion

Need to treat people with HIV/AIDS with understanding and compassion

IDUs should use sterile injections and avoid sharing needles

New Delhi, January 15, 2018: Recent statistics have indicated that the prevalence of HIV in injecting drug users (IDUs) in Mizoram is about 20%. This is a percentage larger than the nationwide prevalence of 6.26% among drug-users.[1]Six states in the region account for 43.5% of IDUs who tested positive for HIV in India. The states in the region with higher than usual national prevalence among IDUs are Mizoram (19.81%), Manipur (7.66%), and Tripura (8.55%).

One of the major factors driving the HIV epidemic in this region is needle-sharing among IDUs. Seven northeastern states account for about 6% of all new HIV infections. To meet the goal of ‘End of AIDS’ as a public threat by 2030, India must imperatively bring the number of infections down. So far, about 79,000 new infections have been reported in 2016. This needs to be brought down to 20,000 by 2030.

Speaking about this, Padma Shri Awardee Dr K K Aggarwal, President Heart Care Foundation of India (HCFI) and Immediate Past National President Indian Medical Association (IMA), said, “HIV is a condition which targets the immune system and weakens people’s defence systems against infections and some types of cancer. The virus destroys and impairs the function of immune cells, thus gradually making infected individuals become immunodeficient. Although there has been a registered 20% annual decline in new infections over the past few years, more efforts are required to completely combat the disease by the year 2030. There is a need to create awareness about the fact that everyone with AIDS must be accorded treatment at the right time to help them achieve good health. HIV/AIDS continues to affect the Indian population despite various mass awareness campaigns, availability of various state-of-the-art medical interventions, and evolving technology.”

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Globally, around 13 million people inject drugs and 1.7 million of them are living with HIV. IDU accounts for approximately 10% of HIV infections globally.

Adding further, Dr Aggarwal who is also Group Editor of IJCP, said, “There is a need to ensure supply of safe and sterile syringes to combat HIV infection. A major reason for continued prevalence of HIV infection and AIDS is the social stigma that our society associates with the disease. There is an urgent need to remove this stigma and treat those affected by this condition with compassion and understanding. The 25th Perfect Health Mela this year will discuss some of these issues in detail. This also happens to be the Silver Jubilee year of this event.”

Some other facts about this condition.

  • HIV – AIDS is now a chronic manageable disease
  • Hepatis C is now curable, and HIV is near controllable
  • The new mantra is test and treat and not to wait till the disease manifests
  • The treatment is totally free within the government setup
  • Government is thinking of starting home testing of HIV like pregnancy test
  • ABC for safe sex: Abstain, be faithful to your partner and if you cannot, use Condoms.
  • Drinking alcohol or taking drugs interferes with judgment. Even those who understand the risks of AIDS and the importance of safer sex may become careless after drinking or using drugs.
  • People with STIs should seek prompt treatment and avoid sexual intercourse or practice safe sex.
  • Used infected razor blades, knives or tools that cut or pierce the skin also carry some risk of spreading HIV.
  • HIV-positive people may remain asymptomatic but can still pass on the virus to others.

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