SRINAGAR: Occupied Jammu and Kashmir, which was once an AIDS free region, is slowly turning out to be a ‘breeding ground’ for Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) with an annual increase of 150 cases reported in the state. Even as World on Saturday expressed concern over the spread of this deadly virus, experts in Jammu and Kashmir delved into ways and means to combat its spread among the youth who are vulnerable lot. Experts warned that the trend of the dreadful disease was changing in Kashmir and termed it a ‘major concern’.
The figures provided by IHK State AIDS Control Society point out carriers as outsiders. In the state at least 56 people are on the verge of death due to AIDS, majority of them being outsiders. The number of HIV positive cases reported is 1130 with an annual increase of 150, say figures of state AIDS Control Society. “We are witnessing a change in trend of the pandemic in Kashmir with HIV positive cases being reported in homosexuals, elderly women, housewives brought from outside and migrant laborers. This is a concern for our society,” said a senior doctor wishing not to be named.
Talking to Greater Kashmir Dr M A Wani, Director J&K State AIDS Control Society said, “The number of AIDS patients in the state was 56 with number of outsiders being 30, including migrant laborers, truck drivers and others and out of remaining 20 patients majority are from Jammu.” He said that the actual figure was 96 out of which 40 have died to AIDS. Dr Wani said 1130 people in the state have tested HIV positive with an annual increase of roughly 150 people.
He said in Kashmir the number of HIV positive tested persons was 150 and remaining was from Jammu. “The HIV positive patients include 65 percent males and 35 percent females with few young people between age of 15 to 20 years. There are also 37 cases of HIV positive from troopers including BSF, CRPF and the army,” Dr Wani said. Dr Wani, however, said that number of the HIV positive cases was decreasing annually in the state. “During 2005 the percentage was 1.4 percent, in 2006 the percentage came down to 1.3 and in 2007 it was reported to be mere 0.3 percent. Even the percentage of awareness about the disease was 21 percent higher in the state than at the national level,” Dr Wani said.
According to Dr Wani, blood born HIV infection rates were less than one per cent in the state and not a single case of infection was reported due to infected blood bottles. “The prevalence of the HIV was less than 0.3 per cent in High Risk Group including sex workers, drug addicts and migrant laborers and zero in pregnant women. The disease has the lowest incidence rate in the state all over the India. But district Jammu and Kathua are receiving special attention as more case of HIV positive were reported from these two districts,” Dr Wani said.
He said 38 HIV positive patients were receiving free treatment in Kashmir and 340 in Jammu. “We are providing free CD4 testing in SKIMS,” Dr Wani said. Dr Mushtaq Sidiq, head of Immunology department in SKIMS, however, said one HIV case was reported every month in Kashmir and at present 120 people were reported to be HIV positive in Kashmir. “Sixty of these HIV positive people are locals and other 60 non-locals including 99 per cent among them are from troops and one per cent is of migrant labourers,” said Dr Sidiq.
According to Dr Sidiq, under Sential survey conducted by them annually no HIV positive case was reported among general population during past four years. “High Risk Population, which is mobile including migrant labourers, truck drivers and others are at high risk,” Dr Sidiq said.-SANA