AIDS spreading fast in areas near highways

BANGALORE, NOV. 29. In 15 districts, mostly in North Karnataka, more than 1 per cent of the women attending antenatal clinics tested positive for HIV, according to a recent Government study.

The prevalence rate of HIV/AIDS in 20 districts is at least 1 per cent, which is higher than the national average of 0.88 per cent. Northern districts such as Belgaum, Koppal, Bagalkot, and Dharwad continued to show high prevalence rates. "This is because the districts have national highways running through them and because of the high percentage of unskilled labour in the population," says an official of the Karnataka Sate AIDS Prevention Society (KSAPS).

The study, conducted among 500 antenatal women in every district, from June to September 2004, showed that among the districts, the incidence was highest in Belgaum. Around 3.8 per cent of the women tested positive for HIV in district hospitals and 4.8 per cent tested positive at the first referral units. Koppal, where the incidence in district hospitals was recorded as 1.8 per cent and in the first referral units as 4.3 per cent, had the second highest prevalence rates. Bangalore Rural district came fourth on the list with 2.8 per cent prevalence rate in district hospitals and 2.5 per cent prevalence rate in the first referral units. The incidence in Bangalore Urban district was the second lowest for the State with 1.3 per cent prevalence rate among antenatal women. The study showed that prevalence of HIV/AIDS was higher in women married to truck drivers and cleaners. More than 2 per cent of pregnant women who tested positive had husbands who worked in the transport industry. More than 1.5 per cent of the HIV positive pregnant women had husbands who worked in the hotel industry and 1.4 per cent of them had husbands in the farm sector, the study said

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