Srinagar: As the world observed the ‘World Aids Day’ we in Kashmir need to be more conscious and prepared about this dreaded disease. Dreaded in terms of the social stigma and the taboo this disease carries with itself.
The disease may not be that serious a threat in Kashmir, but given the number in terms of infected patients and the deaths that have been happening over the years, we need to be prepared for creating awareness among the new generations about this killer disease.
The total number of deaths caused due to AIDS for the year 2016-17 in the state has gone up to 273. The number of deaths caused due to this deadly disease was 628 till the year 2015, however, the figure has now jumped to 901 in 2017.
In Kashmir division alone 102 deaths have occurred so far because of AIDS, out of which 23 deaths have occurred in Kashmir division in the year 2017, and the rest are reported to have occurred in other divisions of the state, especially Jammu.
During this period 869 cases of AIDS cases were also registered from various ‘Integrated Counselling and Testing Centres’ (ICTC) in Kashmir. There have been a total number of 5399 cases of AIDS registered in the state, with 4328 patients testing positive for HIV, out of which 901 patients have died in the entire state.
The figures are still not considered to be alarming but since the inception of the prevention and control project in the state 901 people falling to this disease cannot even be ignored.
Jammu and Kashmir is a low prevalence state regarding AIDS. We all wish that it remains so, but that does not mean that we need not take preventive measures. It becomes all the more important to draw a concerted plan that needs to be put into action as the challenges are becoming all the more thorny.
Although the state lies in a low prevalence risk zone, with an infection rate among the high-risk and low-risk groups standing at 0.95 percent and 0.06 percent respectively, the statistics are changing.
The concentrations of migrant labourers, truck drivers, security personnel and the influx of tourists invariably pose a serious threat. Unofficial sources and independent studies claim the state has nearly 25,000 cases of HIV infection. Unorganized commercial sex, a difficult terrain and socio-cultural diversity in the state make spreading awareness about the virus doubly challenging.
Besides, the unwillingness of people to get themselves screened for the Aids tests also adds to the problems.
Notably, the huge number of security personnel presence in the state also makes the road ahead more difficult. A majority of the cases detected in the Sher-e-Kashmir Institute of Medical Sciences (SKIMS) and the SMHS Hospital in Srinagar were those of Border Security Force (BSF) and Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) personnel.