Sexually Transmitted Diseases on the Rise Among Migrant Labourers

Published: 08th November 2014 05:59 AM  |   Last Updated: 08th November 2014 07:56 AM   |  A+A-

KOCHI: A urologist in Perumbavoor had a rude shock when a migrant labourer approached him with one of those rarest cases of sexually transmitted diseases (STD) in its worst form.

“He had come to me after consulting with a few quacks. They had already injected something on him. He had ulcer on his penis and suffered from huge tissue loss. Had he delayed treatment for few more days, he would have had to face amputation of a portion of his genitalia, and the result would be a urethral stricture (narrowing of urethra). “The surgery to open it up is a costly process. In some advanced cases, the surgery will be in two stages,” said Dr Sanil Kumar, who is the consultant urologist with a private hospital.  

The patient was, however, hospitalised and had recovered. Otherwise, even a plastic surgery wouldn’t have saved him, Dr Sanil Kumar said.

According to the Kerala State Aids Control Society (KSACS), 15 major sexually transmitted infections (STI)/reproductive tract infections (RTI) were reported in the last six months, whereas it was just 37 cases over a period of six years from 2008 to 2013.

Similarly, the reported cases of HIVs in the last six months were 20, against 41 over the last four years.

“The influx of high-risk migrant labourers is slowly raising the STI/RTI graph in the state. They might be coming from a low prevalent state, but contract infections, including HIV, during their transit,” said Dennis Joseph, joint director (Targeted Intervention) KSACS, adding that most of them visit brothels and red streets on their way home. Classic STD cases have not been identified, but there have been cases of syphilis and scabies.

According to Abhilash Babu, project manager (Migrant), Hope Foundation, Thrissur, they had admitted a syphilis case in Thrissur Medical College, but the patient vanished with out a trace. Abhilash said that the migrant labourers are a floating population, and they cannot be brought to the screen easily. “Even if they turn up, many abandon medication half-way, especially when they go back to native places for a five or six-month break. Chances for their coming back to the same place for work are also rare, stopping the follow-ups abruptly,” he said. Dennis, however, said that considering the rise in the incidence, the KSACS is shifting its strategy. 

“Earlier, it focused on those coming from high-prevalent states. But now labourers from low-prevalent states are also screened meticulously,” Dennis said.

 (to be concluded)


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