Shillong(Meghalaya), Oct 19: A total of 4458 registered cases of HIV have been registered in the Anti-Retroviral Therapy (ART) centers of Meghalaya from 2006 till date.
This was informed by the Project Director, Meghalaya AIDS Control Society (MACS), Shemphang Lyngdoh.
“The cumulative PLHIV registered at the ART centres from June 2006 till date showed that the number of people in the state registered with HIV Care is 4458 comprising 2077 males, 2162 females and 103 and 116 male and female children respectively,” Lyngdoh told Highland Post.
With drug abuse becoming a growing problem in Meghalaya, Lyngdoh said that drug abuse contributes to about 20 per cent in the rise of HIV / AIDS cases especially in Khasi and Jaiñtia Hills.
Informing that majority of the drug injecting users is between 15 and 35 years of age, he said there are cases where children who are between 10 to 12 years old who have become injecting drug users.
“We have three 3 Oral Substitution Therapy centres in Shillong and 2 in Jaiñtia Hills and very soon another two ART centres will be made functional in Jowai and Tura which are assisting the injecting drug users and preventing needle exchange which in turn prevents the spread of HIV / AIDS. We are giving them Buprenorphine tablets accordingly according to their age,” Lyngdoh said.
Stating that casual sex is another factor contributing to the rise of HIV cases in the state, he said that youth are falling prey to the HIV-AIDS owing to unprotected sex while pointing out that there is an increase in the number of both female and male sex workers which is contributing more to this problem.
“The drug addicts are also very prone to high risk activities like unprotected sex, and group use of needles for injecting drugs contributing more to the rise of HIV-AIDS in the state,” he added.
He informed that MACS provides free counseling services to sex workers and guides them on how they can take care of themselves health wise besides distribution of free condoms and free medical checkup.
Lyngdoh also said that the Ante Natal Check-Up (ANC) tests are conducted on pregnant women to prevent the transmission of HIV to her child.
“We need to encourage pregnant mothers to give birth in the hospital and come for regular medical checkup so that the transmission of the deadly virus to a child can be prevented,” he said.
When asked about cases reported where people carrying HIV were denied admission in hospitals, Lyngdoh while stating that he has never received a formal complaint of such cases said , “Anyone denying admission to a pregnant mother carrying the HIV virus should immediately inform me and as the Project Director and I will talk to the management of the hospital or any health centre to do the needful because our duty is to provide help and assistance to these people. The health centres cannot deny assistance and admission to the people.”
Lyngdoh further opined that discriminating against HIV carriers will just compound the problem while stressing the need for people and the community as a whole to support these people.
“If one carrying this virus is discriminated against then it will be very hard to control the spread of the HIV virus because these people will not have the courage to come forward for treatment and we will not know their status and this virus will keep on spreading,” he said.
He also said that the virus can be controlled through medication which will enable people carrying it to lead a normal life.
“In line with the WHO we aim to control the transmission of HIV from mother to a child by 2020 and end the HIV-AIDS epidemic by 2030,” Lyngdoh asserted.
By special arrangement with Highland Post