AIDS: Lack of Awareness Major Factor
With awareness still at bay, AIDS has claimed 10 lives in the district while 51 persons have tested positive in the last one year, taking the total number of affected persons to 358. Besides, 36 HIV positive cases have been detected in Rairakhol Integrated Counseling and Testing Centre
(ICTC), two in Kuchinda ICTC and one in Laida ICTC in the last two years.
According to sources, of 358 patients reported in ICTC at the district headquarters hospital, 15 contacted the disease from the parents, 28 were traced to homosexuality, 311 were from among heterosexual, three were afflicted by injecting drugs while one was due to blood transfusion.
The issue has once again exposed lack of awareness about the disease among the people in the district on the threshold of industrialisation.
In Sambalpur and neighbouring Jharsuguda district which houses more than 50 industries, there has been sharp rise in the floating population over last couple of years. It is believed that the virus is being carried by migrant labourers from West Bengal, Bihar, Jharkhand and Chhattisgarh who have moved over in search of job.
While the accurate figure is debatable, migration, low literacy level, poverty, urbanisation, drug users, unsafe sex and ignorance about transmission of the disease are other factors responsible for the spread of the killer disease.
A closer look reveals that ostracism, humiliation and ill treatment by the family members, community and the medical fraternity have been contributing to the spread of AIDS. Lack of adequate medical care, treatment facilities and socio-economic support from families and the community has driven many patients to despair and suicide.
All the hospitals in the region offer wither kit method and ELISA test to ascertain the disease. Since these methods do not confirm the disease and are used only to screen blood samples, possibility of detection of the disease at initial stage is low.
Chief District Medical Officer Dr Minakshi Mohanty said prevention is better than cure and regular awareness programmes are being organised. She said three new ICTCs at Naktideul, Phasimal and Gobindpur have been made operational recently while plans are afoot to establish one at Jujumura.
The trend has been reflecting a decline in the disease and ANM and ASHA volunteers are being sensitised to spread awareness among the people, Mohanty added.