In spite of crores of rupees spent towards awareness about prevention of HIV/AIDS, the disease continues to spread its tentacles in Ganjam. The district has the maximum number of HIV positive cases in the State which has claimed 1764 lives in the last 13 years.
According to reports of Red Cross Blood Bank and Microbiology Department of MKCG MCH, from May 2000 to June 2013, around 29,060 HIV positive cases were registered. This included 1910 children between one and 14 years, 17,964 males, 11,096 females and 1,433 pregnant women.
The cause of spread of the disease is not far to seek. Having highest number of landless migrant labour force in the State, the district has been steadily getting HIV carriers through the labourers from other places. About seven lakh workers of the district are now engaged in menial jobs at various factories and construction sites in Gujarat and Maharashtra.
Fright of AIDS has even gripped educated workers who have started opting for blood test for HIV. However, not all the labourers can go for the test for fear of social boycott. As a result, they have to spend a good amount to do the test secretly in private clinics. But, such tests cannot be relied.
Meanwhile, to bring down HIV incidence in Ganjam, the district administration has come out with new plans. Collector Kishen Kumar said at present, the HIV positive cases in Ganjam constitute around 38 per cent of total HIV cases in the State. “We have decided to counsel Surat-bound migrant workers on prevention of HIV. Names of migrant workers would be registered in their respective panchayat office which would be easy for the administration to track them. Anganwadi workers will collect data about migrant workers which will be compiled at the panchayat office. Besides, integrated health camps would be held for HIV positive persons in each of 16 identified blocks every three months,” Kumar said.
These camps would screen HIV people and facilitate medical intervention. Besides, a mobile health unit dedicated for AIDS control will travel across the district at least three weeks a month to create awareness among people. Moreover, initially one counsellor will go with the workers to Surat and educate them on preventing HIV/AIDS during 36-hour journey.