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This health minister can't tell AIDS from HIV

india Updated: Jun 01, 2010 18:59 IST

Meghalaya Health and Family Welfare Minister Rowell Lyngdoh on Tuesday admitted that he did not know the difference between AIDS and HIV.

"These are technical terms. I require notice for the reply," Lyngdoh told legislators during question hour in the assembly, when Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) legislator James K Sangma asked him the difference between HIV and AIDS.

Lyngdoh is a senior Congress legislator and deputy chief minister in the Mukul Sangma-led ministry.

While Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) is a virus, AIDS or Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome is the disease caused by HIV.

Adviser Pariong, who is a parliamentary secretary in the government, also challenged the minister on cases of HIV/AIDS in the West Khasi Hills district.

And what prompted Adviser -- that is his name -- to ask a supplementary question was that one of his close friends was an HIV victim.

Taken aback by the ignorance of his minister on HIV/AIDS status in West Khasi Hills, Adviser stood up and asked several questions on HIV/AIDS, which the minister could not reply.

Earlier, Lyngdoh informed the assembly that 330 HIV cases, including 131 HIV positive females, have been detected between 2002 and 2009 in the state.

"East Khasi Hills district has recorded the highest number of cases at 279, followed by Jaintia Hills 25 and West Garo Hills 23," the health minister said.

On measures being given for treating those affected, Lyngdoh said: "If they are found to be HIV positive, they are provided psycho-social support and linked to treatment and care through anti-retroviral treatment, but their identity is kept secret as per NACO guidelines."

Chief Minister Mukul Sangma was nonplussed when Leader of Opposition Conrad K Sangma sought for his intervention after his deputy fumbled on several occasions.

However, it was Independent legislator Manas Chaudhuri who came to the minister's rescue by saying that it had been hardly one month since he took over as health minister.