While debates were held on various issues related to health and hygiene on the World Health Day on Saturday, one issue that reigned supreme on the minds of people and experts was the increase in the number of HIV/AIDS cases.
Though the health authorities in Amritsar claimed that there has been a decrease in the incidence of HIV/AIDS this year as compared to last year, but the decrease is marginal. This year, 1,290 HIV positive cases were registered in the city as compared to 1,300 cases last year.
Figures pertaining to HIV/AIDS cases from 2008-09 to October 2011 paint a grim picture. Amritsar had the dubious distinction of leading the state with 8,828 cases being tested HIV positive at the Integrated Counselling and Testing Centre (ICTC).
The district registered 223 deaths during Anti Retroviral Therapy, again highest in the state, followed by 207 in Tarn Taran. A total of 1,79,266 suspected cases were tested at the ICTC in the district.
With 3,630 HIV positive cases Patiala was second on the list, followed by Jalandhar with 3,115 cases and Ludhiana (2,784) from 2008-09 to October 2011.
Civil surgeon Dr Manjit Singh Randhawa said in Amritsar, 3,400 persons were tested for HIV/AIDS in 2010-11, of which 1,300 were found positive. In 2011-12, around 4,800 cases were tested and 1,290 were found HIV positive.
"There has been a marginal decrease in HIV positive cases due to various awareness drives organised in villages and cities," he said.
Randhawa, however, said efforts were being made to make people aware of the threat of AIDS as the city receives thousands of visitors every day which include tourists, devotees, migratory labour and casual visitors.
"Efforts are being made to reach out to everyone right from educated residents in the most visited areas of the city to uneducated people in remotest villages of the district. This serious issue requires consistent and careful handling," he said.