RAYAGADA: Despite advancement in treatment, preventive measures and awareness programmes, AIDS continues to spread its tentacles in Rayagada district. As per an estimate, more than 300 persons have died in the district in the last 10 years.
Out of 1,19,653 blood samples tested in the district so far for the dreaded disease, 776 samples, including those of 40 children and 47 pregnant women, have been diagnosed HIV positive.
Sources from Integrated Counselling and Testing Centre (ICTC) of District Headquarters Hospital (DHH) revealed that 32 persons have tested HIV positive in 2015-16 year so far. While 11,963 persons were counselled, 8821 tested in current year.
One of the major reasons for the rising number of HIV positive cases in the district was assigned to high incidence of migration to neighbouring States for employment. Rapid industrialisation in Rayagada is also stated to be another factor.
Unfortunately, the stigma associated with the disease continues to haunt the affected persons who face discrimination at all levels. Be it medical aid, free pathological tests, other base line investigations at DHH or availing Madhubabu pension scheme and housing facilities under Mo Kudia scheme has become a nightmare for them.
At present, five ICTC centres are working in Rayagada district. While two centres are located at DHH, one is at Muniguda CHC, one at ESI Hospital, JKpur and the fifth one at sub-divisional hospital at Gunupur.
Though the Facility Integrated Anti Retroviral Treatment (FIART) centre was opened in DHH in March, no medical officer has been posted there. Similarly, three lab technician posts and one counsellor post are lying vacant in the district. Even the nodal officer is on leave for the last two months.
In paediatric cases, Anti Retroviral Treatment is not available in the district. As a result, the children in the age group of three to 16 months have to be taken to Koraput, 112 km from Rayagada headquarters, to avail the treatment. At least 15 of them have been diagnosed with full blown AIDS. Five of them have been orphaned by the disease while maximum have a single parent to look after them.
In many cases, the parents are not in a position to support the children given their own precarious health condition with 80 per cent of these families in the BPL category. All that the parents get is `300 a month from Madhubabu Pension Yojana but that is not enough to sustain them.