Second generation HIV epidemic lurking

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IMPHAL| May 21 : NGOs dealing with the issues of HIV/AIDS have warned of second generation of HIV epidemic in Manipur if there is no intervention at public policy level with concrete guidelines.

Phillip Laishram, senior counsellor at ART centre, RIMS talking to the Imphal Free Press said the rate of HIV cases in the state has come down from 55.7 percent in 1994 to 17.9 percent in 2007 (MACS epidemiological report 2009), however dealing with those children who were born with the infection has become the greatest challenge this time.

He cautioned of another epidemic if there is no intervention at the policy level with concrete guidelines to tackle the issue.

He said that children born with the virus in the early 90s are fully grown up. In the meantime there have been cases of injecting drugs and children getting married amongst these children and the second generation of transmission from vertical to horizontal has already begun, he maintained.

The trend of mode of transmission of the virus has found more through the sexual route and has penetrated the general population in a bigger way, he said adding that pregnant women prevalent with HIV was 0.8 percent in 1994 but it rose to 1.3 percent in 2007.

He said that till September 2010, there were 2407 children through vertical transmission enrolled in the 9 ART centres of Manipur out of which 524 have already started on the therapy.

L Janaranjan, project manager VIHAAN at Network for Positive People (IW) said the psycho-social support of the children on ARV is a big challenge to service providers.

Counselling of children who has crossed under controllable age has been a challenging task for them, Janaranjan said. He further informed that there have been cases of many children drop out from taking ARTs or started abusing drugs out of the lack of motivation and support.

The situations are more serious to children who are double orphan, he added.

They strongly recommended of concrete policy or guidelines as primary prevention is the need of the hour and behaviour change communication does not hold good with them.

As per report from NPP, in Imphal West district there are around 4800 on treatment patients enrolled in NPP out of which around 800 patients died because of HIV and co-infections.

There are around 500 enrolled widows with HIV/AIDS in the centre for the district.

For the whole state, as on March 2014 Epidemiological Analysis of HIV/AIDS in Manipur showed that there are 37,864 numbers of HIV infected on treatment people out of which 2575 has died.

Every month, the ICTC centre at RIMS records 30 to 45 numbers of HIV positive patients.

Another point the NGOs pointed out is that the rolling out of free treatment of ART leads to decrease in the mortality rate but still issues of concern are PLHIV who are co-infected with Hepatitis C and TB.

Seventy percent of HIV infected people are reported to be co-infected either with TB or Hep C.

Source: Imphal Free Press

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