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Women lead the way in HIV test madurai matters

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Affects all: Dr. Dorothy Chelappa attending to a child inside a van at Melakkal in Madurai district on Monday.
Affects all: Dr. Dorothy Chelappa attending to a child inside a van at Melakkal in Madurai district on Monday.

S. S. Kavitha

867 women volunteer to undergo HIV/AIDS test against 234 men: official

MADURAI: Women seem to be more courageous than men when it comes to voluntary testing for Human Immuno Virus or Acquired Immuno Deficiency Syndrome.

This is what records maintained at voluntary testing centres under the Comprehensive HIV/AIDS Management Project (CHAMP), implemented by Family Planning Association of India (FPAI) in Madurai district, show.

As many as 867 women around 25 years of age have volunteered to undergo HIV/AIDS test against 234 men who have come for testing. In total, 1,101 persons had visited the mobile and static Voluntary Counselling and Testing Centres (VCTC), said Louis S. Paulraj, Branch Manager, FPAI.

“It is very disappointing to note that men do not volunteer themselves for testing while they form the main source of infection for women,” he said.

Dorothy Chellappa, the doctor who accompanies the mobile van to the villages, concurred with this view. On Monday, in Melakkal village, of the 90 persons who visited the mobile unit, seven women underwent HIV/AIDS test. Among them, six were ante-natal mothers and another one among a ‘discordant couple’ (husband is positive while the wife is not).

The prime reason for people visiting VCTC is fear aroused either following the death of the spouse or suspicion of their own self. “Twenty five per cent of people come for testing out of fear and 1.6 per cent after the death of their spouse,” Mr. Paulraj said. The other reason among 37 per cent of people was sexually transmitted infection symptoms, he said and added that ante-natal care mothers (pregnant) constituted 17.1 per cent of the visitors.

Garnering support

To motivate more men to come forward for testing, FPAI has planned to involve ‘makkal nala paniyalargal’ and panchayat union clerks to reach out to men in their respective villages with the support extended by panchayat union chairpersons, commissioners, non-governmental organisations, block-level medical officers and employees of Integrated Child Development Project.

Van near firms

Besides, they have also planned to station their van in front of industrial units and firms to attract the attention of men.

Under the CHAMP, which is being funded by Innovation Fund International Planned Parenthood Federation, London, the FPAI has so far conducted 134 camps in 237 villages in Tirumangalam, Tiruparankundram, T. Kallupatti, Sedapatti, Usilampatti, Chellampatti and Vadipatti blocks, benefiting 5,771 persons, between May and December 2007. So far, it had collected 675 kg of rice and distributed it to 135 people living with HIV (PLHIV) in seven blocks. The Family Planning Association of India has performed safe abortion and tubectomy on seven positive-women and hernia surgery on two positive-men identified by the mobile unit.

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