Bindal calls upon youth to go in for voluntary HIV test

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Shimla, Mar 13 (UNI) Himachal Pradesh Health Minister Rajeev Bindal today endorsed state Chief Minister Prem Kumar Dhumal's suggestion to undergo a voluntary HIV test, just as they match horoscopes, before marriage.

Replying to a question by Kaul Singh Thakur (Congress) during Question Hour in the Assembly, he said, 2,653 HIV cases had been detected in the state since 1992 upto January 2008 out of which 506 were AIDS patients.

Mr Bindal said the maximum number of HIV positive cases were detected in Kangra district where 630 patients had been detected followed by Hamirpur at 622.

Clarified that no survey has been conducted in the state to identify HIV positive cases, he said, however, according to the guidelines, the HIV testing of any individual can be done only by taking consent of that individual.

He said this test was done at 21 integrated counselling and testing centres free of cost, after the consent of person concerned.

According to the National AIDS Control Organisation (NACO), information, education and communication (IEC) activities were being undertaken to make people aware about HIV-AIDS, he said.

The Minister said the IEC activities were being undertaken through inter personal communication meetings and dissemination of messages through publicity modes and added that during 2007-08 through 160 Red Ribbon Clubs in colleges and technical institutions youth were made aware about HIV-AIDS.

According to the National Family Health Survey (NFHS) 2006 in Himachal Pradesh, 93 per cent men and 84 per cent women have heard of AIDS against the national percentage of 84 per cent and 61 per cent respectively, he said.

Mr Bindal said apart from this 53 per cent men and 30 per cent women have comprehensive knowledge of HIV-AIDS in Himachal as against the national percentage of 33 per cent and 17 per cent respectively.

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