CHENNAI: Earlier it was sex workers and truck drivers who were prone to get human immune deficiency virus (HIV) but now the virus is migrating to another set of population including Gays as well as migrant populations in the state, according to Dr Suniti Solomon, who was the first to detect India's first HIV cases in Tamil Nadu.
Addressing a multi-stakeholder convention, Solomon , who is also managing director of Y R Gaitonde Center for AIDS Research and Education, said that as per the survey conducted by her organization, Gay community in India are among those who are worst affected.
“We did a survey of gay population from Amritsar to Coimbatore and found that most of them have HIV and of these 60 per cent are totally unaware of AIDs,” said Solomon.
Interestingly, Solomon has said that people can live with AIDs for a longer time provided they take first line drugs everyday without fail. “If they fail, resistance comes up forcing use of second line therapy which is costly,” she said.
Meanwhile, the stakeholders have also put forth three important conditions to be included in the long pending Human Immunodeficiency Virus and Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (Prevention and Control) Bill. They object to the clause “as far as possible” in providing medical facility saying it should be made as a right besides creation of an ombudsman and protection to the HIV positive people as well as the vulnerable population working for them.
Interestingly, state health secretary, J Radhakrishnan vowed to apprise Parliamentary Standing Committee of the stakeholders' demands so that it can be incorporated in the Bill to be passed in Lok Sabha.
The stakeholders also apprised the health secretary of difficulties faced by people living with HIV and AIDs in accessing life saving antiretroviral therapy drugs in the state. The secretary denied that there was a shortage of Antiretroviral Therapy Drugs (ART) in Tamil Nadu.
Radhakrishnan said that the state government has been targeting to ensure zero new HIV infections, zero new deaths and zero stigma.