State-wide plunge in prevalence of HIV

Andhra Pradesh being home to the highest number of HIV infections across the country; the prevalence of HIV among pregnant women in the State has, for the first time, plummeted to less than one per cent.

“If the prevalence among pregnant women is over 1 per cent, it implies that the epidemic – not restricted to the high risk sector – exists even among general public,” said Dr. Pradeep Kumar, Deputy Director, Monitoring and Evaluation, Andhra Pradesh State Aids Control Society (APSACS).

“For the first time, 0.77 per cent of HIV prevalence among antenatal clients (ANC) across the State has been recorded by the HIV Sentinel Surveillance of 2010-2011.”

Although there has been a significant decline in the overall prevalence of HIV in most districts, six districts still have enormous number of persons living with HIV/AIDS. While Kadapa has recorded an alarming 2.25 per cent prevalence among pregnant women, Karimnagar, East Godavari, Guntur, Krishna and Mahabubnagar districts recorded a mean prevalence of 1 per cent and above.

High incidence of migration to and from these regions, officials say might be the reason. While an enormous number migrate from Mahabubnagar to Mumbai each year, their vulnerability to sex workers there, they guess, might be a major cause. An antidote, though, is still absent.

While the prime focus of the State had been on regions of coastal Andhra, health officials informed that Visakhapatnam and Adilabad, are now emerging as a ‘very high challenge area' with a huge HIV-affected populace.

A huge set-up in the efforts of the State since 2005 to prevent the HIV/AIDS, has been the reason for the recorded decline. Official records state that while over 60 per cent of all pregnant women in the State had been tested for HIV, over 83 per cent of those identified positive have received free antiretroviral drugs to reduce risk of parent-to-child transmission.

Besides a significant increase in the number of antiretroviral therapy (ART) centres in the State (from 3 to 43), officials said that there has also been a 75 per cent rise in the number of people visiting the centres. Several other prevention, testing, treatment and welfare initiatives to fight the epidemic have also been taken by the APSACS.

Several challenges

Lack of vaccinations and absence of microbicide gel to kill the virus at its entry point are, however, among several challenges faced by the State in combating the fatal disease.

The article has been corrected for an error.

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Printable version | Apr 15, 2021 9:54:15 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Hyderabad/statewide-plunge-in-prevalence-of-hiv/article2663262.ece

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