Tribune News Service
Jammu, July 28
The prevalence of HIV (Human Immunodeficiency Virus) that causes AIDS (acquired immunodeficiency syndrome) has slowly tightened its grip on Jammu and Kashmir as over 4,300 patients, including 131 orphans and 225 widows, have been tested HIV positive in the state so far.
Jammu, having the maximum fluctuating population, has reported the highest number of HIV patients, followed by southern districts of the state —- Kathua and Samba. The number of patients infected by HIV has shown an upward trend over the years. It has mainly been attributed to greater use of drugs than sexual transmission.
According to the J&K State AIDS Control Society (JKSACS) statistics, a total of 4,175 HIV-positive patients, including 2,437 men, 1,484 women and 248 children, have been registered with the society in the Jammu region till May this year.
“Jammu has reported the highest 1,482 HIV patients, followed by 793 in Kathua, 482 in Samba, 243 in Udhampur and 241 in Rajouri,” said Sumeera Khan, Programme Officer and in charge, JKSACS, Jammu.
In the Kashmir region, including Leh, the prevalence of HIV is quite low. The number of HIV patients there is 228, including 58 non-locals.
However, the number of HIV patients has witnessed an increase, though there are some fluctuating figures.
Before 2011, the state had 2,573 HIV-positive patients.
“In 2011-12, only 22 fresh cases of HIV-positive patients were registered with the society, which witnessed an increase of 516 during 2012-13, 343 in 2013-14, 335 in 2014-15 and 302 in 2015-16,” the statistics said.
Khan said 131 orphaned children were also tested HIV positive as they carried it from their parents, while there were 225 widows in the state who had also been tested HIV positive.
Besides, more than 700 Army personnel, government servants and non-locals, who fall in the category of ‘others’, have been tested HIV positive in the Jammu region.
A senior JKSACS official expressed concern over youth falling in the trap of drug mafias. He demanded revisiting the traditional approach to deal with the spread of the disease. “In south Kashmir and Kathua and Samba districts, the drug menace has attained an alarming proportion. While the use of drugs is a major reason for HIV transmission mainly in the Kashmir valley, female sex workers, truckers and labourers are the main transmitters in Kathua and Samba,” the official said, adding, “About 750 persons have died due to AIDS in the state since the first case was detected 30 years ago.”
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