NE states show rise in HIV cases: Report

New HIV infections have been reported in Assam, Meghalaya, Arunachal Pradesh and Mizoram in 2017, in spite of an overall decline in HIV infection in the country, according to a National AIDS Control Organisation (Naco) report.

By Gaurav Das in Guwahati
  • Published 17.09.18
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Guwahati: New HIV infections have been reported in Assam, Meghalaya, Arunachal Pradesh and Mizoram in 2017, in spite of an overall decline in HIV infection in the country, according to a National AIDS Control Organisation (Naco) report.

The three states have reported increasing new HIV infections, according to the recently released India HIV Estimations 2017 Fact Sheets by the Naco and Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR).

The report states that Assam, Meghalaya and Mizoram have a high rate of annual new HIV infection trend states (between 2010-17) each reported an increase of 37, 10 and 18 per cent respectively. Women constituted a significant proportion both in terms of AIDS-related deaths and new HIV infections.

Mizoram, Manipur and Nagaland were accounted as states with adult (15-49 years) HIV prevalence above the national average. Mizoram, Manipur and Nagaland each reported 2.04, 1.43 and 1.15 per cent respectively.

"The increase is mostly attributed to the fact that more people are coming forward for screening and testing. We are working towards the UNAIDS mission of 90-90-90. I get around 15 to 20 calls every day to know about HIV testing and how it should be done. It is a good sign that people are coming forward to know about their HIV status," said AIDS expert S.I. Ahmed from London of the AIDS Prevention Society, and who is among the pioneers in India to do study on HIV/AIDS.

Assam reported 1,387 new HIV infections in 2017 with a staggering 37 per cent increase, accounting for 41 per cent of new HIV infections among women.

The state reported 266 AIDS-related deaths in 2017 which is a 26 per cent increase, with women accounting for 38 per cent.

"Assam is a gateway to the Northeast. It is a melting point of migrant labourers with truckers included. There is the factor of mobility where people go outside the state or within the districts or within the Northeast for work. People are vulnerable to sexual contact," said Sanjib Chakraborty, technical support, Naco.

Meghalaya state reported 191 new HIV infections in 2017 with a 10 per cent increase and 42 per cent new HIV infections among women. There were 23 AIDS-related deaths, registering a 41 per cent decline but accounting for a 30 per cent AIDS-related deaths among women.

"The HIV/AIDS scenario varies from place to place. For example, Jaintia Hills districts have slighter more HIV infections as compared to East Khasi Hills district. It could be so because of migrant flow or truckers," said Rebina Subba, a Shillong-based consultant with Naco.

In Mizoram, there were 1,503 new HIV infections in 2017 there was a 30 per cent decline in AIDS-related deaths. There was an 18 per cent increase in new HIV infections trend with women accounting for 42 per cent of new HIV infection. The state also reported 474 AIDS-related deaths in 2017, with women accounting for 39 per cent.

"In Manipur and Mizoram, endemic drug usage and use of infected syringes are on the rise. Infection among drug users is quite high in both the states," said Deepak Leimapokpam of the Manipur Network of Positive People.

Arunachal Pradesh has reported a 65 per cent increase in new HIV infections in 2017 with 76 new HIV infections, with 39 per cent of new HIV infections among women. With 19 AIDS-related deaths in 2017, there was a staggering 111 per cent increase in deaths. Women accounted for 37 per cent.

"Screening has drastically increased in Arunachal Pradesh. So new cases are being reported," said Chakraborty.