BERHAMPUR: AIDS continues to remain one of the leading killers in Ganjam district. According to reports of Orissa State AIDS Control Society (OSACS), over 1,310 people have lost their lives on account of AIDS in the district while a significant number of people are living with HIV.
The State-level nodal agency stated that 11,966 persons in the district were identified to be affected with HIV by the end of October 2013. As far as HIV positive patients are concerned, the district remains on the top of the list of affected patients for the last one decade.
Ganjam is one of the high HIV prevalence districts in India and an “A” category district with more than one per cent of population affected by the disease. While around 40 per cent of the total HIV population in Odisha are from Ganjam, more than 90 per cent of them are migrant labourers and their family members.
According to reports prepared by voluntary organisations working for prevention of AIDS, majority of people living with HIV/AIDS are from rural Ganjam. Large scale migration, ignorance, low female literacy, inadequate prevention activities, high level of stigma and discrimination are the reasons for the spread of HIV in the district.
Several projects to prevent HIV are operational in the district. Targeted Intervention Project (TIP) without migrant workers, TIP with migrant workers, TIP with female sex workers (FSWs) and male having sex with male (MSMs) and 17 migration friendly information centres are functioning in the district. Similarly, for the AIDS/HIV patients, 33 Integrated Counselling and Testing Centres (ICTCs) are operating in the district which includes one Mobile ICTC, a community care centre with 10-patient capacity, a child care home with capacity for 50 children, one home based care and support project in Aska and Hinjili blocks, PPTCT training at all ICTCs and an Anti-Retrieval Therapy Centre (ARTC). The ARTC located inside MKCG Medical College and Hospital premises here provides facilities like counselling, free testing, free CD 4 count, free treatment/referral for treatment of opportunistic infections, free ART medicine to patients afflicted by the disease. The State Government provides Rs 200 per month to HIV patients under Madhu Babu Pension Yojana besides providing BPL cards.
Sources said the patients are reluctant to avail the benefits of the Government schemes fearing social stigma. Despite spending crores of rupees in spreading awareness about the killer disease, fear still prevails among doctors and paramedical staff attending HIV patients.
Social activists said Ganjam, one of the State’s poorest districts, has more number of children affected with AIDS and these young patients are often ostracised by their neighbours.
“An HIV positive person is more open and friendly towards another HIV positive person rather than to a normal person,” said Loknath Mishra, director of ARUNA, a voluntary organisation working for rehabilitation of HIV positive patients in the district.
11,966 persons in the district were identified to be affected with HIV by the end of October 2013
Large scale migration, ignorance, low female literacy, inadequate prevention activities, high level of stigma and discrimination are the reasons for the spread of HIV in the district
Around 40 per cent of the total HIV population in Odisha are from Ganjam and more than 90 per cent are migrant labourers and their family members
Despite spending crores of rupees in spreading awareness about the killer disease, fear still prevails among doctors and paramedical staff attending HIV patients