Mumbai: Data indicates HIV affects people more in 15-49 years age group
A decline was also noted among high-risk groups of female sex workers, men having sex with men and transgenders over the past five years
Even though the number of people affected by HIV (Human Immunodeficiency Virus) has dropped over the past four years, data collected by the Mumbai Districts AIDS Control Society indicates that the virus continues to affect younger people. Among the people who were found to be newly infected with HIV, 76.8 percent are in the group of 15-49 years.
The data also shows that the number of people who have been screened for HIV has increased by 66 percent in the last five years possibly due to growing awareness about the disease. While in 2017-18, 3.94 lakh people were screened for the virus, in 2018-19, the number increased to 4.7 lakh. The number of those who tested positive, however, has been dropping. While in 2014-15, 8593 persons had been diagnosed for HIV, the number dropped to 5702 in 2017-18 and then to 4964 in 2018-19.
A decline was also noted among high-risk groups of female sex workers, men having sex with men and transgenders over the past five years. In 2018-19, 37.6 percent of female sex workers, 26.4 percent of men who have sex with men and 34.3 percent of transgenders who were screened were diagnosed with HIV.
Dr. Shrikala Acharya, Additional Project Director of MDACS, however, pointed out that the steady decline doesn't mean that HIV poses any less of a risk. She said, "We see the decline on a national scale as well. However, we shouldn't be complacent and not work with preventive measures. Among those who are being diagnosed every year, a significant proportion of them are in an advanced stage of the disease."
The data also indicated that the majority of those who were newly affected by HIV are in the age group of 15-49 years and 36 percent of them are women. In the group of newly affected, 93.7 percent of people were infected due to unsafe sex, 3.5 due to transmission from infected mother to baby, 0.1 percent due to infected blood and 0.1 percent through infected needles/instruments.
Dr. Acharya added that in order to reduce the number of newly affected, they will have to be diagnosed early. "The 15-49 age is the socio-economically productive age group. We have to put them on treatment and see that they become virally suppressed so that the new chain of equipment can be prevented," she said.
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