Good News – HIV decrease in Maharashtra

 Finally there is some good news. The number of new HIV cases as well as AIDS-related deaths across Maharashtra are steadily decreasing and the same trend is being reflected in Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC) limits.

Encouraged by the positive response, the civic administration is kicking off a slew of activities to raise awareness and promote voluntary HIV testing on the theme of ‘Getting to zero’.

In an emailed response, Dr Rajeev Bamble, nodal officer, Pune State AIDS Control Society (PSACS), said that between January and October 2012, a total of 74,555 persons were tested at 17 Integrated Counselling and Testing Centres (ICTC’s). Of these, 2,471 of them tested positive.

In 2011, there were 3,745 new HIV infection cases, while in 2010, the same number was 4,440. The HIV detection rate dropped from nearly 10% in 2005 to 3.4% this year.

“Soon, HIV testing and counselling facilities would be started at 10 civic hospitals. Besides, we have a slew of activities planned for awareness, counselling and testing. On December 1, we have a rally from Good Luck Chowk to Shivajinagar. Volunteers from Pune University, National Service Scheme and District Aids Prevention Control Unit would participate,” said Dr ST Pardeshi, acting chief medical officer, PMC.

He added that the year-long activities would include an awareness drive during Pune International Marathon, screening of prisoners and sex workers and poster presentations at public events and parks.

At the state-level too, the number of fresh cases detected has gone down. Data shared by Dr Asha Hegde, joint director, Maharashtra State Aids Control Society (MSACS) showed that up to October 2012, 3.2% i.e. 35,608 people of 10,98,885 people tested positive for HIV. In 2011, the same was 3.4% positive cases of the total tested while in 2010, the same was 4.8 %.

Similarly, out of 8.31 lakh ante-natal care (ANC) women tested for the disease, 1,656 were found positive with the virus. The prevention of spread of HIV from parent to child reduced from 1.1 % in 2005 to 0.17 % till October this year.

“The most encouraging trend is reduction in AIDS-related deaths. It is a testament to the success of anti-retroviral therapy (ART) centres. We now plan to increase number of ART centres,” said Ramesh Deokar, project director, MSACS. Up to October 2012, a total of 1,243 AIDS death cases were reported as compared to 1580 in 2011.

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