THOUGH THE prevalence of HIV/AIDS cases is reported to be low in Uttar Pradesh, the virus is spreading faster than the projected figures of the Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society.
A study conducted by the Family Planning Association of India in collaboration with the Action Aid shows that the data of the Nationwide Sentinel Surveillance report, to access the spread of HIV/AIDS in UP, is far from the ground realities and raises questions over the validity of the Government figures. The Action Aid study on ‘Scenario of HIV vulnerability and prevalence in Uttar Pradesh’ conducted in five districts of UP — Lucknow, Azamgarh, Chitrakoot, Etah and Lakhimpur Kheri having outward migration — reports low prevalence of HIV cases.
The State reported 726 AIDS cases in 2005 as against 375 registered in 2004. The situation can take a turn for the worse in 2006 as around 200 HIV cases have been reported in the first three months.
The Action Aid report points out that people prefer to shell out Rs 250 at a private lab for HIV testing and counselling over a Government Voluntary Counselling and Testing Centre (VCTC) where the test charge is a paltry Rs 10.
In the study spread over a period of four months, a total of 2913 people visited Government VCTCs, out of which 511 were found positive. However, in the same time frame, a total of 58,831 people visited private pathologies, out of which 1588 were reported as HIV positive.
According to the report, testing kits are not available for months together in various districts. It also points out that the virus is spreading from high-risk to low-risk areas. The report adds that nearly 90 per cent of the women become vulnerable through their husbands. This group, especially those living in the rural areas, needs to be armed with knowledge regarding safe sex, suggests the study.