Counselling of couples to prevent spread of HIV/AIDS

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Guwahati, May 07 (UNI) A compulsory HIV/AIDS test before marriage could be a far cry, but counselling for voluntarily opting for it can diminish the risk factor considerably.

Talking to reporters here today, Ms Jahnabi Goswami, president of Assam Network of Positive People, said, ''Compulsory testing before marriage of both parties is not a feasible idea due to various factors. Instead, counselling them for going for the test voluntarily can be an option.'' Ms Goswami had herself contracted the virus from her late husband and had been involved with the HIV/AIDS campaign ever since.

Referring to her earlier demand for a legislation to make 'HIV/AIDS status' test compulsory before marriage, Ms Goswami said, ''I was not aware of the loopholes in such a compulsory order then.

But now, with my greater association with the problem, I have come to note that counseling could help in diminishing the risk factor considerably.'' She pointed out that even an HIV/AIDS person could manage to secure a medical certificate proving otherwise by resorting to unfair means, like bribing the doctors or manipulating the report.

''There is also the window period, which is immediately after a person had contracted the virus, and is not detectable until after several months,'' she added.

Substantiating Ms Goswami's point, Dr S I Ahmed, chairman of the AIDS Prevention Society, said, ''The Asom government had proposed a legislation for compulsory testing and had contacted us also.

However, the hurdles and loopholes of such a law will not have led to its materialization.'' He maintained that compulsory registration of marriages could help in ensuring counselling of couple before marriage, which, in turn, could motivate them to opt for voluntary testing.

The number of people living with HIV in 2006 worldwide were 39.5 million, with an estimated 5.1 million among them living in India.

In India, 85.34 per cent of the cases were sexually transmitted, which had led to a growing demand for testing the HIV/AIDS status before marriage.


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