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Disturbing trends of HIV/AIDS in Nagaland



(Front row from right) Former chief minister and Congress MLA, KL Chishi, project manager, AIHI, Dr. Joyce, MO, ART Centre Dimapur, Dr. Hutoka and DMC advisor, Hokuto Zhimomi, at the advocacy programme on HIV/AIDS organized by Akimbo Society at Burma Camp, Dimapur, on Saturday. (Morung Photo)
 
DIMAPUR, February 11 (MExN): The battle against HIV/AIDS in the tiny state of Nagaland is far from over as though the prevalence rate has officially dropped to 0.78% since December 2010 from that of 1.27%  till October 2010, disturbing trends have emerged that suggest that the number of people infected with HIV may actually be on the rise.
Sixty seven new HIV cases have been registered in Dimapur in the month of January 2012 alone. The total number of persons detected with HIV/AIDS in Nagaland till December 31, 2011, stands at 12,440 with Dimapur district accounting more than 4,000 cases. The total number of unregistered HIV/AIDS cases is anybody’s guess as stigma and discrimination against persons infected with HIV/AIDS still continues. And while HIV infection through drug injection has climbed down to 3.5%, transmission through sexual route has gone up to 89% in Nagaland.
In an effort to sensitize local leaders and public on the ever-present menace of HIV/AIDS, Akimbo Society, supported by Legislators’ Forum on AIDS-Nagaland, organized an advocacy programme on HIV/AIDS with the theme “Together we fight” at Burma Camp on Saturday, with former chief minister and sitting Congress MLA of Dimapur-I A/C, KL Chishi, as chief guest and project manager, Australian International Health Institute (AIHI), Dr. Joyce and medical officer, ART Centre Dimapur, Dr. Hutoka as resource persons. The chief guest in his address said that HIV/AIDS is a disease “Nobody likes but somebody gets it” and so though one may hate the disease, one should never hate or discriminate those persons affected with it. Chishi said that Dimapur –I assembly constituency under which Burma Camp also falls is the only urban constituency in the whole state and comprises of all communities engaged in various trades and occupations besides having the maximum “floating population.”  Terming Dimapur-I as “very vulnerable,” he also said that he had heard reports that Burma Camp area is a hot spot with regard to HIV/AIDS. Besides others, the veteran Congress leader said that one reason HIV is spreading fast is because of the poor living conditions of people. “As they don’t have ways and means to a decent living, many people engage in extraneous and undesirable activities for their survival,” he said. Urging on collective responsibility and effort to curb the menace of HIV/AIDS, he added, “We should be alert, careful and discipline ourselves and others to check the menace of HIV/AIDS.”
Project manager, AIHI, Dr. Joyce who spoke on the theme “Together we fight” underscored that the first step to combat HIV/AIDS is the responsibility of every individual, irrespective of status or social standing, to look after their own health as health cannot be bought unlike other commodities. She also reminded that “HIV/AIDS does not discriminate anybody; it can affect anyone of us. We are all vulnerable.” Dr. Joyce said that just like in a battle, every soldier has to be trained in order to overcome the enemy, likewise every citizen should be imparted knowledge in HIV/AIDS. She called upon teachers, public and church leaders to educate themselves on safe behaviors and how to protect oneself and then educate others on how to prevent HIV/AIDS. After all, the only cure for HIV/AIDS till date is “Prevention”, she said.
MO, ART Centre Dimapur, Dr. Hutoka, in an overview of “HIV/AIDS scenario in Dimapur” said that according to records, HIV/AIDS cases in the commercial hub is “increasing and not decreasing” and attributed the cause to ignorance and carelessness. He said the most affected groups included prostitutes, drivers, homosexuals, migrants and even police personnel. Of the 4,000 plus HIV cases detected in Dimapur, 3,755 were registered at ART centre (as of January 31, 2012) which presently include 1874 are males and 1625 females, he said. Dr. Hutoka also informed that a total of 256 children (123 males and 133 females) in the age group 0-15 yeas are registered at ART centre Dimapur out of which 79 are on ART.
The number of HIV patients undergoing ART treatment in Dimapur is 1612, the highest in the state followed by Kohima (1,100 approximate) and Tuensang (1,000 approximate). Advisor, Dimapur Municipal Council, and chairman, Burma Camp, Hokuto Zhimomi, also spoke in the occasion. Earlier, project director of Akimbo Society, Kaisii John delivered welcome address. 

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