KANNUR: Despite the decline in the number of HIV-AIDS patients in Kerala, the fact remains fresh cases of HIV incidence are being reported in the state every year. Though several of those who tested positive for HIV picked up the virus after leading a promiscuous life, many of the newly reported cases involve intravenous drug users.
As per the statistics available with the Kerala State Aids Control Society (KSACS), currently the state has around 11,579 people living with HIV-AIDS. Significantly, there has been a marginal drop in the number of people who tested positive for the virus in the last three years.
While 1,677 tested positive in 2014-15, it came down to 1,484 in 2015-16. The number of HIV positive persons further went down to 1,404 in 2016-17. KSACS project director Dr R Rameshan told Express the treatment facilities for HIV-AIDS patients have improved in the state. “We have Anti-Retroviral Treatment(ART) Centres at all Medical Colleges and major hospitals in 10 districts. In other places, we have specialised clinics to provide quality and free treatment for the patients,” he said.
Rameshan said despite the limitations the state is offering free and quality treatment to the patients to enable them to lead a normal life. Longevity is also guaranteed in most of the cases. He said massive awareness campaigns are being held to tackle the scourge while acknowledging more HIV-AIDS cases have been reported among intravenous drug users. On the KSACS’ findings on increased HIV incidence among those belonging to the 40-60 age group, Rameshan said this group was more vulnerable to the disease since most of them were having a physical relationship with multiple partners.
Though treatment facilities had improved it is a sad fact there is still a social stigma attached to the disease. “Yes, it is indeed disappointing to know despite being a literate state such notions still exist in society,” he said.
Providing proper sex education in schools could help a lot in fighting the disease. “We are now asking teachers to teach students without inhibitions and many have come forward. But still, a majority of teachers is a bit apprehensive to discuss these things openly with the students,” he said.
Sex education had indeed helped a lot as fewer number of youngsters tested positive for HIV since they knew all about the preventive measures, according to Rameshan. It also emerged the highest incidence of HIV was reported from Palakkad, Thrissur and Thiruvananthapuram.