The government’s HIV/AIDS awareness campaigns seem to have hit the right note. The incidence of new HIV infections in the younger generation is declining, according to the Mumbai District AIDS Control Society.
The organisation has drawn this conclusion based on the decreased rate of HIV positivity in blood donors and among pregnant women in the city.
“Majority of blood donors comprise youth, aged between 18 to 35 years, and the pregnant women are also representative of the general population. So the fact that the HIV incidence among these groups has declined shows that overall rate of new infections is decreasing,” said Dr S.S. Kudalkar, project director of MDACS.
He added that this is because the younger generation is more aware and taking the right precautions. Dr Alka Deshpande, who heads the Anti-Retroviral Therapy centre at JJ Hospital, said the data reflected the situation on ground. “These days, most patients are aware of the importance of using condoms. Many HIV-positive men also abstain from sex with their wives to avoid infecting them. This was not the case a few years ago,” she said.
The mortality rate and the incidence of “opportunistic infections” (bacterial/ viral infections) among HIV patients have come down to due to regular treatment. “A large portion of drugs supplied by NACO for treatment of opportunistic infections is lying unused,” said Dr Deshpande.
“However, many people are still diagnosed very late and by then they have already reached the stage of AIDS. If patients come early, when their immunity level is comparatively better, we can delay the onset of AIDS and add eight-10 years to their life,” said Dr Deshpande.