Despite state measures 65,000 still HIV positive

Though the number of HIV positive patients has taken a dip in the past decade, the state still has around 65,053 victims undergoing Anti Retroviral Therapy; current death rate is 17 per cent
Even as the government has taken several measures to put a curb on the deadly disease, over 65,000 people in the state are still battling the HIV virus,  revealed the Karnataka State AIDS Prevention Society in run-up to the World AIDS DAY on December 1.

The Karnataka State Aids Prevention Society sold 62,44,108
condoms this year

In the last decade, the state witnessed 2.53 lakh HIV cases, out of which 74 per cent of the patients succumbed to the disease. However, as what could be called a positive sign about the growing awareness of HIV is that since 2002 reportedly over 61.90 lakh people have come forward to take the HIV tests.

According to the current figures, 65,053 HIV infected patients in the state are undergoing Anti Retroviral Therapy (ART), which is meant to increase the life span of the patients.

In this therapy, antiretroviral (ARV) drugs are used to suppress the HIV virus and stop the progression of the disease. Doctors say there has been a decrease in the rate of deaths, as more patients are being identified at an earlier stage.

"Art is administered to patients as soon as they are diagnosed (with HIV) and fit the criteria for the therapy. However, in many cases, the disease is detected at a later stage since the patients themselves are not aware till it's very late," said Dr Vani Srinivas, epidemiologist, Department of Health and Family Welfare.

Reportedly, of the 65,053 patients alive on ART, 31,260 are men, 29,334 are women, 4,343 are children and 116 are transgenders. According to the reports, the prevalence rate among the general population in state is currently is 0.70 per cent from the earlier 1.5 per cent in 2004.

The department claims that the death rate among patients undergoing treatment is 17 per cent. "While the ART can suppress the development of HIV, most patients die because they suffer from TB coupled with the disease," said Dr Srinivas.

With another World Aids Day approaching, the state might have reasons to celebrate as the number of ART centres in the state has increased, resulting in better chances of battling the deadly virus.

"In 2004, there were only four ART centres in the state, while today there are 44. With these centres those afflicted with HIV have a better chances of living," said Salma K Fahim, Project Director, Karnataka State Aids Prevention Society.

While the fight against AIDS still continues, the increased awareness in the state and lower prevalence rate is a good sign added the project director.

Sale of condoms
While condoms cannot necessarily prevent the spread of HIV, it can reduce the risk of the disease. The Karnataka State Aids Prevention Society has sold 62,44,108 condoms this year.
Of which over 13 lakh were sold in Bangalore city, over five lakh in Davengere and Bellary and about 13,000 in Kodagu.

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