HIV in Ludhiana and Amritsar: Alarm bells go off in district

The Punjab State Aids Control Society has sounded an alarm bell in the districts of Ludhiana and Amritsar that have the maximum number of HIV/AIDS cases in the state and have been put under Category A.

Despite the efforts to control AIDS in the district, the health authorities have failed to evolve a foolproof system. A separate AIDS wing had been set up in Ludhiana under the guidelines of the National AIDS Control Programme (NACO) under the district programme officer.

Ludhiana and Amritsar are the only districts where these special wings had been set up.

Anshu Seth, for The Tribune.

The Integrated Counselling and Testing Centre (ICTC) at the civil hospitals in Ludhiana, Samrala, Payal, Raikot, Jagraon, the DMCH and the CMCH, despite being the last resort for HIV/AIDS patients, is unable to reach out to a large number of patients.

Counsellors at these centres refused to give the number of positive cases on the pretext of “confidentiality”. A senior doctor, maintaining anonymity, said: “It is difficult to ascertain the authenticity of the records as a large number of positive cases from targeted areas do not come in the open. At the same time there is no need to hide the number of patients as it invalidates the cause of helping patients to come out in the open and the general public to treat them with respect.”

Dr Geetika, district programme officer for AIDS in Ludhiana, said: “There is no time to lose as it is the need of the hour to tackle the problem. I have already started holding meetings to deal with emergency. ICTCs, gynaecology clinics, public and private blood banks and NGOs have been asked to send detailed reports of positive cases.”

She also spoke of the shocking revelations by the team of experts on “Red Ribbon Express” that accelerated the process of consolidating the AIDS control programme in Ludhiana.

Creating awareness was the top priority as slum dwellers, truckers, IV drug users, commercial sex workers and their clients were among the worst affected, the district programme officer stated

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