HIV rates highest among 20-30 yr-olds

Survey reveals that the incidence of the virus has increased among youth due to lack of awareness, shows that more males were affected than women

There is some good news on the medical front as the percentage of those suffering from HIV has dropped drastically from 10.65% in 2007 to 5.84% in 2011 in the city according to a survey conducted by Metropolis Healthcare Ltd. 

Alarming stats: According to an expert, the lack of education and the
urge to experiment with different sexual partners was the cause for the
rise in the incidence among 20-30 year olds. Representation pic

However, don't celebrate just yet as the survey revealed some startling facts. The new review revealed that the incidence of the HIV virus was highest among those belonging to the age group of 20-30.

Number game
The diagnostics laboratory carried out the study across eight major cities in the country namely Mumbai, Noida, Chennai, Kolkata, Pune, Ahmedabad, Surat and Kerala for the period of January 2010 to September 2011.

Officials carrying out the survey screened around 9,09,013 people in the city alone out of which 95,622 tested positive for the virus of which 50,346 belonged to the age group of 0-30 years.

Confirming the results, Dr Jatinder Bhatia, Chief of Lab Services, Metropolis Healthcare Ltd, said, "As per our survey, the incidence of HIV+ is maximum in the age group of 20-30 years. This age group is especially vulnerable as awareness and education to the youth is limited. We have collected the data by testing people voluntarily across our centres. Those who tested positive for HIV in the first round of test were made to undergo two others tests as confirmatory tests."

The study also revealed that the HIV infection was predominant in males compared to females with a ratio of 60:40.

Dr Bhatia further said that the positivity of the virus was less than 10% in Mumbai and Surat and more than 30% in the north namely Noida and Kolkata.

"Other than Mumbai, the number of people coming forward to volunteer for the test was lesser and hence the positivity was higher. On a global scale, the number of new cases of those being afflicted with the HIV virus is reducing and now policy makers should focus on the youth as they are more vulnerable," said Dr Bhatia.

When MiD DAY approached Dr S S Kudalkar, the project director, Mumbai District Aids Control Society (MDACS) and Dy Municipal Commissioner, he said, "HIV+ is an infection that is found more common in people in the pre-productive ages. We feel that this age group is learning of the dangers and being more responsible and in time the positivity cases will reduce."
He added that the MDACS had so far only registered 595 cases in 2011.

Explaining the increase in the 20-30 age bracket, Dr I S Gilada, specialist in HIV/AIDS, said, "Basically people at the age of 20 or so are filled with curiosity and have an urge to experiment. It is an established fact that the more partners one has the more risk one has of contracting the virus."

Gilada also attributed the rise of HIV+ cases to consumption of alcohol. "Most people drink much more in this age group that leads to high-risk behaviour."

"To contain HIV, alcohol consumption should be restricted, which ironically brings maximum revenue to the government," Dr Gilada added.

HIV toll
The number of HIV deaths reduced to 15 of 595 cases this year from 223 of 5,420 cases in 2007. According to MDACS statistics, there are 65,251 patients registered for HIV care out of which 32,040 have started the
antiretroviral therapy

Did you know?
According to the United Nations 2011 AIDS Report, every day over 7,400 people are infected with HIV and 5,500 die from AIDS-related illnesses

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