New Delhi [India], Aug 7 : With an aim to bring down incidence of HIV/AIDS by 20,000 per year for the next two years, the Union Health Ministry is reaching out to targeted areas like prisons and women remand homes as cases in these places are much higher as compared to the general population, said a senior Health Ministry official.
As of now, there are about 2.1 million patients suffering from the disease, however, only 1.3 million are registered with Antiretroviral Therapy (ART) centres and getting the treatment as per the National Aids Control Orgzation (NACO), said the official adding that there is so much of social stigma around it that people don't come out openly for the treatment.
"We have to develop a system of identifying patients and reaching out to the targeted areas like prisons and women remand homes because cases here are 5 to 6 times more than that among general population. We are working on it and screening patients in these areas and giving them appropriate treatment," the official said.
Apart from this, the ministry has directed all private and government medical colleges to operationalise Antiretroviral Therapy (ART) centres in their respective institutes for the treatment of HIV patients.
"In the coming days, all government and private medical colleges will have ART centres only for the treatment of HIV patients. HIV prevention is a community-driven programme. The major challenge is to eliminate the gap. People who suffer from the disease do not even come out for the treatment because of social stigma. Greater number of ART centres will help the government in identifying patients and get them adequate treatment to further reduce the burden of the disease. Hence, it requires aggressive awareness campaign," said the official adding that so far Central government has 540 ART centres across the nation.
ART centres have been established to provide free treatment to persons living with HIV and AIDS. The main objective is to remove stigma and discrimination, to safeguard rights of People Living with HIV (PLHIV) and those affected by HIV.
According to NACO report, during the 2016-17 period, about 184,092 general individuals were detected as HIV positive. However, during 2017-18 (till August 2017) around 80,955 were diagnosed HIV Positive.
( With inputs from ANI )