ANDHRA PRADESH

Spurt in AIDS cases in Karimnagar

KARIMNAGAR OCT. 10. Karimnagar district has attained a dubious distinction in the State with high incidence of Acquired Immuno Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS).

District Medical and Health Department statistics point to a steady increase in the number of AIDS cases. This year till September four deaths were reported due to AIDS and HIV.

During 2002-03, the department reported about 566 HIV-positive cases and during this year up to September there were 309 HIV-positive cases. Besides, several hundreds of cases have gone unreported as most of the patients do not seek medical help from Government-run facilities.

In order to check sexually transmitted diseases (STD) as 10 per cent of the STD cases proving to be AIDS cases, the department conducted a health check-up of 12 lakh people in the age group of 15 to 49 years. During the health check-up, doctors treated 23,793 STD cases and referred about 2,151 persons to hospitals for further treatment.

The prevention of parent to child transmission centre, which is functioning in the district headquarters hospital, has helped six children escape from the dreaded disease though their mothers suffered from it.

The Medical Department, which identified high-risk areas in various parts of the district, has decided to supply condoms for safe sex practice. According to the AIDS Control Programme nodal officer, Rehana Begum, condoms would be made easily available to people at dhabas, wine shops, petrol bunks, pan shops, etc, on highways as well as in important towns, free of cost. At such places, the signboard `free condoms' would be displayed prominently. Condom boxes would be installed in various parts of Karimnagar, Jagtial, Godavarikhani and other towns.

The DM&HO, Anantha Reddy, said they had decided to change the name of Voluntary Counselling and Testing Centre (VCTC) and sexually transmitted diseases clinics. He said people were scared to visit VCTC centres in the district because of phobia of AIDS.