Despite several efforts by the UT health department, a negligible decline in the prevalence of HIV infections among intravenous drug users is a major area of concern, said director, health services, Dr VK Gagneja.
The data shared by the States AIDS Control Society (SACS) also reveals a steady increase in the number of HIV positive cases and deaths among total registered patients for treatment in the city over the past few years.
In 2010, total 1,726 cumulative cases - alive and on Anti Retroviral Therapy (ART) - were reported, of which 162 cases were from Chandigarh. The number rose to 2,103 (238 local) and 2,763 (321 local) in 2011 and 2012 respectively.
In 2013, the number increased by around 500. Total 3,286 cases (364 local) and 3,778 (430 local) were reported in 2013 and 2014 respectively. In 2015, the number shot up to 4,232, out of which 498 were localities. As far as the status of death among total registered patients on treatment is concerned, the number has increased up to 24. In 2013 and 2014 the total number of deaths of Chandigarh population were 9, however, in 2015, total 24 deaths were reported.
Dr Vineeta Gupta, Director, SACS said, “Because of effective tracking programmes of the UT health department, more cases are being detected.”
When asked, why the number of deaths has shot up, she said, “Most of the cases are detected at later stages or people who are reaching PGIMER often go at later stages.” However the overall prevalence of HIV in the area has reduced, officials said.
The UT health director informed, “the prevalence of HIV in an area is measured by the positivity amongst pregnant women. In Chandigarh, this positivity has reduced from 0.27% in 2008 to 0.11% in 2015.”
Above 1200 IDUs are registered with two NGOs and the prevalence of HIV is 1.99%. Opiod Substitution therapy (OST) is also available at various centres for IDUs. Under this therapy, illicit drug users are given buprenorphine, which is usually administered orally in supervised clinical settings.