A simple RTI query in Banda about HIV positive/AIDS cases has brought forth the enormity of the problem in the Bundelkhand region.
According to experts, a lot of these cases can be attributed to the rising level of migration in the region.
Ashish Dixit, the RTI activist who had filed the application, said, “drought and the resultant farm crisis has turned migration into a habit. The scenario is the same in all seven districts of the Bundelkhand region.”
Before 2008, there were hardly any HIV/AIDS diagnostic centres but now there are 10 such centres in Banda, said a source. Cases come to these centres, in most instances, when infection turns serious, he added. In five years till 2012, as many as 189 women were detected with HIV/AIDS, of which 43 were pregnant. Similarly, 228 men were tested HIV+ during the period. Of the total 417 persons who were detected with the infection, 70 are already dead. “The figures are just a tip of the iceberg. If the number of diagnosed cases is so high, one can only imagine what the actual picture looks like,” said Dr Rakesh Babu, district AIDS control officer, Banda.
“Nevertheless, 417 is no less a figure for a small district like Banda with a population of 18 lakh,” said Mamta Pandey of Abhudaya Sansthan, an organisation working with HIV/AIDS patients. Pandey said, of late, migration has become a habit in the region and the migrating population is a major carrier of the HIV infection.
Referring to a recent report of the National AIDS Control Organisation (NACO), she said migration was the biggest multiplier of HIV/AIDS cases nationwide.
“It would be no exaggeration to presume that the scenario in Bundelkhand is far grave than known because of a very high rate of migration. Families migrate around Diwali and return around Holi,” said Pandey. “The rate of migration in urban and rural areas of the district is more or less same. While 20% to 25% is the rate of migration in the town area, it is nearly 30% in rural areas,” she added.
“Even pregnant women reach for diagnosis when it is almost impossible to administer a therapy to prevent infection to the fetus. So either they are advised to terminate pregnancies or the children are born with infection,” said Dr Babu. He said diagnostic facilities are likely to increase in times to come, and this would apparently bring more cases to the fore. At present, there are no ART (anti retroviral therapy) facilities in Banda and patients are sent for treatment/management to Kanpur and Allahabad.