Andhra Pradesh

HIV prevalence in youth is worrying: Kutikuppala

Every day, a youth comes to my clinic to get tested for HIV/AIDS in order to make sure that he has not been infected, said top HIV/AIDS researcher Kutikuppala Surya, adding that while there is a general decline in the HIV/AIDS infection rate, the prevalence rate among youth remains a cause for worry.

A member of the International AIDS Society, Dr. Surya spoke to The Hindu on the occasion of World AIDS Day which is observed on December 1.

“Research done across the country points to the fact that promiscuity among youth and indulgence in unprotected sex under the influence of alcohol or drugs is on the rise. And this is a worrying factor, as the combination of alcohol and drugs leading to unprotected sex is supplemented by the free flow of pornography,” he said.

Gaps in ART

Dr. Surya pointed out that the gaps in antiretroviral therapy (ART) are widening and said there is a need for governments to intervene.

Globally, there are 35.5 milliion HIV cases and 50% of them are not taking ART. If ART is taken on time regularly, then the chances of opportunistic diseases will come down and the lifespan of an infected person will go up, he said.

He said that both the Union and the State Governments should increase the number of testing centres. Every public hospital should have a testing centre and facilities should be provided for latest tests such as nucleic acid, viral load test, CD4 count test and HIV phenotype and genotype tests.

Dr. Kutikuppala also pointed out that ART centres should be equipped to give holistic treatment, which includes treating opportunistic ailments and the government should seriously think of starting a few exclusive hospitals for HIV/AIDS across the State.

Speaking about the progress in developing a vaccine for HIV/AIDS, he said that trials are going on, but the problem with HIV is that the virus has got at least seven sub-types. “That is why efforts are on to develop an MRNA vaccine, which could be a permanent solution,” he said.

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Printable version | Jan 26, 2022 2:28:24 AM |

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