Other States

Migrant workers still out of reach of HIV screening

Social activists holding awareness placards and red ribbon as they walk in a carnival on the AIDS Day in Bhubaneswar on Saturday.

Social activists holding awareness placards and red ribbon as they walk in a carnival on the AIDS Day in Bhubaneswar on Saturday.  

Ganjam the eighth most HIV infection-prone district in the country, says District AIDS Cell official

A large number of migrant labourers vulnerable to HIV infection in Ganjam, the most AIDS prone district in Odisha, are still out of reach of regular screening and test for possibility of presence of the deadly virus in their body.

According to programme manager of the District AIDS Cell, Hemant Kumar Das, Ganjam is the eighth most HIV infection-prone district in the country.

Most of the HIV infected persons of the district are migrant labourers, who work outside Odisha, especially in Surat of Gujarat.

As per an assessment, there are around five lakh migrant labourers in Ganjam district. At present, around 1,47,000 persons in Ganjam are getting screened for HIV infection in a year. Out of them, around 60,000 are pregnant women, as now thrust is on preventing transfer of HIV from infected mothers to newborns. The other tests are targeted at migrant labourers.

Eight months ago, the Odisha AIDS Control Society, with the support of social organisation ARUNA, had started a special project for cent percent screening of migrant labourers for HIV infection at 200 villages in six blocks of the district. At these villages, volunteers counsel and screen through HIV testing kits every migrant labourer returning to his home. Around 36,000 persons are to be tested under this project.

Lokanath Mishra of ARUNA, who for more than a decade has been involved in rehabilitation of HIV infected persons as well as migrant labourers, said the project has to be extended to all the villages in the 22 blocks of the district to cover all migrant labourers.

Ganjam has 3,250 villages that have migrant labourers.

“As per the present facility, around 87,000 migrant labourers are getting screened for HIV infection after their return, which is less than one fifth of the total number of migrant labourers,” Mr Mishra said.

Regular screening will also increase awareness about HIV among the migrant labourers, who are generally less educated, he added.

‘90-90-90’

UNAIDS has envisioned to achieve ‘90-90-90’ target by 2020, which will result in controlling HIV infection to sustainable state by 2030.

As per the ‘90-90-90’ target, 90% of all HIV infected persons should get diagnosed and know their HIV positive status. Ninety %of these diagnosed HIV positive persons are to be provided regular Antiretroviral Therapy (ART). Ninety % of persons taking ART should show signs of viral suppression which reduces their scope of infection.

But in Ganjam district, getting 90% of all the HIV positive persons diagnosed is still a distant target.

From May 2000 till October 2018, total number of persons tested to be HIV positive in Ganjam district is 15,373. It is around 33% of total number of 46,128 HIV positive persons in Odisha.

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Printable version | Jul 4, 2020 6:45:00 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/other-states/migrant-workers-still-out-of-reach-of-hiv-screening/article25650465.ece

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