Bhopal (Madhya Pradesh): Madhya Pradesh is the safest state in the country as far as acquiring HIV AIDS is concerned. The prevalence of the condition in the state is almost 2.5 times lower than the national average. The incidence of HIV is 0.22 in the country whereas it is just 0.09 in MP. It means that in India as a whole, 22 of every 1000 persons is or is likely to be afflicted with the disease, while in Madhya Pradesh, the corresponding figure is just 9. The number of HIV patients in the state has declined by almost 48 % since 2010.
According to NACO (National AIDS Control Organisation) data, the total number of HIV patients in the state undergoing treatment is around 58,000. “Today, we can say with some pride that with the help of better medicines and more awareness, more and more HIV patients are recovering,” says deputy director, AIDS Control Society, Madhya Pradesh Dr Adarsh Shukla. Almost 80 % of the current patients are under ART (Antiretroviral therapy). “The medicines available now are much more effective and have much lesser side-effects,” Shukla said. As a result, the mortality rate among HIV patients has declined by 82 % - a great achievement, he said.
Truckers, sex workers, transgender persons, migrants and those using drugs intravenously are high-risk groups and they have to be monitored closely, Shukla said. He said that Madhya Pradesh is well on its way to achieving the target set by NACO- that of reducing new infections and mortality rate by 80% by the year 2026. The target is to ensure that 95 % of the HIV infected people are aware of their status, 95 % of these should be under treatment and among those who are being treated, 95 % should be able to suppress the virus. “This 95 % plus strategy is being implemented in the state, he said. However, the stigma attached with the condition continues. “Even today, a patient approaches a treatment centre away from his home, rather than the nearest one to avoid stigmatisation,” the doctor said. Counsellor at ART Plus Centre, Gandhi Medical College Bhopal, Umesh Kumar said “If we talk about the last 10 years, the number of AIDS patients have increased by approximately 10 per cent as hidden cases have come to light due to awareness programmes.” “The number of patients who approach us saying that they have tested positive for HIV from urban areas is more than rural areas,” Kumar added.