HIV on the Rise among Men Having Sex with Men

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Till now the main cause for the spreading of HIV in India has been heterosexual. This has been proven otherwise by a survey carried out by the National and Control Organization (NACO) and health ministry titled “HIV Sentinel Surveillance and HIV Estimation in India, 2008.”

The survey states that two main factors for the rise of the deadly virus are the increase in the use of injectible drug users (IDU) and men having sex with men (MSM). The survey was done on a district-to-district basis approach, covering the entire country. It is a component of the National Aids Control Program-III (200-11). The report will be released sometime in June.

Urgent intervention is now required in some areas in states such as Delhi, Punjab, West Bengal, Orissa, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Chattisgarh, and Bihar, where before the need for such intervention was not felt that much.

Dr. Ajay Khera, assistant director-general, NACO is of the view that IUD-linked HIV cases were mostly found in the Northeast. Earlier the focus was on the migrant population, but now one cannot restrict the spread of HIV to these criteria. “We are finding more and more cases related to IDU and MSM” says Khera.

The report further states that HIV was highly prevalent in the urban centers of Delhi, Bangalore, Pune, Surat, Rajkot and Calcutta. On the whole 21 districts have shown more than 5% of HIV prevalence.

In Nagaland and Manipur IDU linked cases are on the decline, where earlier it was endemic. Of course in West Bengal, Delhi and Mumbai it is on the rise. Mayank Agarwal, joint director, NACO claims that the decrease in numbers was due to their intervention policies in the north-eastern states. Now the focus was on IDU and MSM-linked cases.

Tamil Nadu has recorded less HIV cases although it is generally considered bad performer in the prevention of HIV cases. In the North-east the sex trade is the cause for HIV epidemic, replacing those using injectible drugs.

The survey also revealed that “HIV-positive women” forming 40% of the total HIV cases are innocent housewives in relationships that are monogamous. This problem also needs to be dealt with according to Dr.Khera.

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