Mumbai: The National Aids Control Society (NACO), in its reply to an application filed under Right to Information Act, has revealed that over 181 residents of Mumbai acquired HIV through infected needles between 2012 and 2017.
The data was shared at the Integrated Centres for Testing and Counselling. A senior doctor said that on an average (with variations in some years) about 70 to 200 people get HIV through infected needles every year. In 2017-18, 69 people, including 29 women, contracted the infection. “The numbers have been intensely debated by state agencies that have been working on controlling the disease,” said a senior doctor.
Officials from the state Aids Control Society said that less than 0.5 per cent of new infections are due to infected needles and that over 90 per cent of the infection in the state happens through the heterosexual route. “The needle-infection numbers are based on voluntary disclosures made by people during counselling sessions before and after they were tested for HIV in ICTCs. Often, patients tend to suggest blood transfusion and infection through needles as a possible mode of transmission,” said the official. He added that HIV is a weak virus and the viral load of the infected person must be really high for transmission.
“As per studies, one in 10 persons will be affected with HIV if an infected needle has been used,” said a doctor. Interestingly, the highest HIV prevalence (7 per cent) in the country is among Injection Drug Use (IDUs), who use addictive substances through injections by exchanging needles. Doctors said that the authorities must also think of Hepatitis C infection since it transmits more effectively than HIV. “In Mumbai IDUs, hepatitis prevalence is around 35 per cent, whereas HIV is 9.5 per cent,” he said.