Madhya Pradesh has seen a steady rise in incidents of sexually transmitted infections and reproductive tract infections in the last few years with experts saying that several cases go unreported due to the stigma attached to such ailments.
The issue gained prominence after health experts said that the engineer, who killed his family at Betul recently, could be suffering from any sexually transmitted infection (STI) and mistook it for HIV/AIDS.
The engineer had claimed that he and his wife decided to kill the entire family after all of them — including two minor daughters — had tested HIV positive. However, tests at government labs after his arrest returned negative.
"It is not just HIV… many other diseases, medications, vitamin deficiencies could give people mouth ulcers," said VK Gupta, the chief medical and health officer (CMHO) at Chhatarpur.
He added that sexually-transmitted diseases like herpes is also known to cause mouth ulcers. The engineer too had claimed to have developed mouth ulcers.
Official figures show a steady rise in the reported STI and RTI in the state for the last five years. Given the stigma attached to such afflictions, the actual number of people suffering from such diseases is much higher, experts have said.
However, they also said that the rise in number of cases showed that more people were now seeking medical help at the nearly 60 designated RTI/STI clinics in the state.
According to the State AIDS Control Society, in 2009-10 over 8,500 cases of RTI/STI were reported in the state which has now increased to more than 3.2 lakh in 2014-15.
Kamlesh Ahirwal, the deputy director of the state AIDS Control Society, said in the past people hardly came to the hospitals to report about STIs and RTIs.
"People would go to quacks and local healers for such diseases. Whether it was stigma, shyness or lack of awareness, people would hardly report such diseases to the doctors in the government hospitals.
"Even though the number of people reporting such diseases at government facilities is not that high but the overall reporting is increasing which is a good sign," he said.
According to the National AIDS Control Organisation (NACO) report for 2013-14, STI and RTI enhance chances of acquiring and transmitting HIV infection manifold and as such control and prevention was one of the key prevention strategies for HIV.
Early diagnosis and appropriate and complete treatment of STI/RTI reduces transmission rate of HIV infection by more than 40%, the report says.