115 HIV positive cases detected in Arunachal Pradesh

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Itanagar, Apr 16 (UNI) Altogether 115 HIV positive cases have been recorded in Arunachal Pradesh, putting the prevalence rate of AIDS in the state at 0.23 per cent.

Project Director of the State AIDS Control Society (APSACS) Dr E Rumi said here today that 62,990 blood samples were tested of which 115, comprising 83 males and 32 females, were found to be HIV positive.

The society organised a day-long advocacy programme on HIV/AIDS for the elected representatives of the state Assembly.

Out of the total cases, 72 were detected in Papum Pare district alone followed by Lohit (22), West Siang (6), East Kameng (3), Changlang and West Kameng with five cases each, while two cases were detected in Tirap and Dibang Valley respectively, he disclosed.

''Most of the victims are in the age group of 20-29 years and 30-44 years,'' Dr Rumi said adding that the estimated number of sex workers in the state was 2,139.

He, however, did not rule out possibility of more AIDS cases in the state as many people had not turned up for the blood test due to various reasons.

''HIV is one of the most serious threats faced by the world at the beginning of the 21st century and Legislators have a major role to play in controlling the disease. As representatives of the people, Legislators can reflect the voice and concerns of all people, including those living with or affected by HIV and members of key groups at higher risk, such as marginalised communities,'' he added.

Dr Rumi said the objective of the advocacy was to provide the MLAs with information so that they could initiate and promote evidence-informed and rights-based HIV response that is crucial for achieving universal access to HIV prevention, treatment, care and support for all.

Dr Rumi further suggested the Legislators to spread awareness about HIV testing and counselling, eliminating stigma and discrimination, preventive treatment, care and support, reducing vulnerability among women, children and other populations at risk.

Arunachal Chief Minister Dorjee Khandu called for a concerted effort to create awareness among the people through various programmes.

Assembly Speaker Setong Sena also advocated for creating awareness among the people through participation of elected representatives, social organisations and Panchayat leaders.

Earlier, in his introductory speech, state Health and Family Welfare Minister C C Singpho suggested for early constitution of the Arunachal Legislators Forum on AIDS (ALFA).

Indian Network of Positive People (INPP) vice-president Jahnabi Goswami, herself an HIV patient, said HIV and AIDS had of late become a social issue and all-out efforts should be initiated to reduce stigma and discrimination among affected people.

She informed that more than 2,000 cases had been detected in Assam alone during the past 14 years.

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