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Health department refutes news regarding rise in AIDS cases in J&K

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Jammu: Refuting the news carried by some sections of media regarding the rising trend in AIDS cases in Jammu and Kashmir due to tourism and the influx of migrant labourers, the Health and Medical Education (H&ME) Department Monday termed the news as “baseless and manipulated”.

“The prevalence of HIV in Jammu and Kashmir is lowest in the country with 0.06% as per India HIV Estimates 2021 which is very much below the National prevalence of 0.21% and this has been possible due to the efforts of J&K AIDS Control Society. JKACS provides a comprehensive package of Care, support and treatment to patients.” the department clarified.

It said the mention of 6305 HIV positive cases in the news item “is actually the total of detected cases since inception of JKACS in 1998).

“Till date, 1,452 HIV positive patients have died while 3583 patients are alive on Anti-Retroviral Therapy (ART) while 521 patients have left follow-up treatment,” the department said.

It said that no doubt, J&K is a tourist destination which receives huge influx of different categories of people including truck drivers, migrant labourers and high concentration of forces, which may be few of the contributing factors for risk of HIV transmission, but not the only reason, there are many other reasons for the spread of HIV/AIDS.

“The increase in number of HIV cases which is being projected by some unverified news items as rising trend is in fact due to the greater coverage, testing, counselling and reduction in the stigma and discrimination due to the dedicated efforts and awareness by J&K AIDS Control Society. These cases are actually the detection of hidden “At-risk populations” in different areas of J&K,” the department said.

It said that due to strenuous efforts towards case detection, the testing capacities in the entire UT of J&K have been increased manifold as a result of which the number of tests conducted among the general population has increased three times between the financial years 2020-21 and 2022-23.

During the current financial year, more than seven lakh fifty thousand tests are expected to be conducted for HIV screening against six lakh tests conducted last year, it said.

Similarly, every effort is being made to ensure that expecting mothers undergo the compulsory HIV screening during their ANC (anti-natal checkup) in the first trimester.  Furthermore, High Risk Groups (HRGs) like Female Sex Workers (FSWs), Injecting Drug Users (IDUs), Truckers, Migrant Labourers (MLs) are also being screened for HIV through increased community outreach, it claimed.

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