BHUBANESWAR: Notwithstanding massive awareness campaigns and sustained AIDS prevention and control programmes, route of transmission through sex continues to be a major cause of HIV infection in the State. Even as HIV prevalence in Odisha has come down from 0.31 per cent (pc) in 2010 to 0.13 pc in 2017 which is below the national average of 0.22 pc, HIV transmission due to sexual activities contributed nearly 88 pc to the total disease burden. As many as 46,246 people have been diagnosed with HIV positive and 1,514 deaths reported in the State till September this year. While 28,533 men have been infected with the disease, the number of women with HIV is 15,220.
As per the latest statistics, highest 33,690 people, aged between 25 and 49, have been contracted with the disease and 4,133 youth, including 2,167 men and 1,966 women between the age group of 15-24, which is treated as the most productive group, are found with HIV positive.
What has left the health officials worried is that the transmission of the disease through sexual acts still continues to top the list though the number of cases due to mother-to-child transmission has reduced considerably. Despite worrying signs, people continue to have unprotected sex.
As per National Family Health Survey (NFHS-4) conducted in 2016, only 3.4 pc men in the State use condoms against three pc during 2005-06. While 7.9 pc men in urban Odisha use condoms, it is only 2.5 pc in rural areas.Project Director of OSACS Dr Sanjay Kumar Pattanayak admitted that transmission through sexual acts is a cause of worry as the number of people using various methods of HIV prevention is not encouraging.
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“Other routes of transmission except sex have been controlled and it is reflected in the new HIV infection data. The decline in new cases is 30 pc in the State compared to the national decline of 27 pc. Despite successes, old challenges remain and new threats continue to emerge,” he said.
While Prevention of Parent to Child Transmission (PPTCT) now stands at six pc and transmission due to blood and blood products is only one pc, spread of infection through infected syringes and needles is two pc. This time around five pc positive cases have been reported from antenatal clinics.
Pattanayak said the statistics says unprotected sex still prevalent in both urban and rural areas. “Our main focus is now on to reduce the rate of infection through sexual acts. We will soon flag off five vans with IEC materials for intense campaign in five districts including Nabarangpur, Bargarh, Sambalpur and Cuttack from where new cases have emerged,” he added.