Finally, the number of patients affected by the Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) has reportedly started coming down, all thanks to the awareness campaigns across the globe.
"About five years ago, the World Health Organisation had estimated that the number of HIV-affected people would touch 50-million mark in 2012, but it has stopped at 34 million at the end of last year," said Dr Sanjeev Sethi, district immunisation officer, who is also working as nodal officer of the district Aids Control Society at Civil Hospital, Faridkot.
This way, there is a certain decrease in HIV cases and Aids is not spreading at the pace it was spreading earlier, he added.
"The number of reported cases has come down though about 2.5 million people are in the trap of this deadly disease. Of the total cases being reported across the world, 50% cases include those in 15 to 24 year age group," said Dr Chander Sekhar, a medical specialist at the Civil Hospital.
"All thanks to awareness, people are more aware about Aida than tuberculosis. We have observed this trend in a school where most children knew more about Aids than TB," Dr Chander Sekhar adds.
Chamkaur Singh, a lecture in a government senior secondary school in the district, however, says teaching or spreading awareness about Aids is still a problem in educational institutions. "Though we get official instructions to make students aware of the disease by marking specific days, sex education is still considered a taboo. Teachers find it difficult to explain about the disease in society."
"We only have 23 patients who are getting treatment for Aids since last year and the Civil Hospital is supplying them drugs and all kind of medical support as it has a link with Anti Retroviral Treatment Centre (ART) at Bathinda. In the past five years, 993 cases of HIV-affected patients have been reported from Faridkot district," says Dr Sanjeev Kumar Sethi.
According to doctors, HIV positive patients may take about five to 10 years to fully develop Aids. "But when they come for treatment, the life expectancy further increases from 10 to 15 years. With the latest research in the field of medicine, the risk of mother to child transmission (MTCT) of Aids can be reduced if the mother and the infant are given treatment at the right time," says Sethi.
Doctors say unsafe sex is a major cause of spread of HIV, followed by sharing of infected syringes, particularly by drug addicts, and then comes the MTCT. Other means of transfer such as at barber shops, through used shaving blades, etc., are not a major cause.
The setting up of blood banks due to which safe blood for transfusion has become possible, with the spread of awareness and prevention of Aids from mother to child have been the main reasons behind decline in number of Aids patients across world.
Dr Rakesh Arora, civil surgeon, Faridkot, said: "I have instructed that the World Aids Day be observed at district-level and at all other hospitals of the district. We are trying to create more awareness about the disease, as unlike many other diseases Aids is totally preventable if the people are aware that what the causes are. At district-level, we have observed the day at a nursing college."
"The government should insert full-fledged chapters in text books to make school and college students aware of diseases, which are fatal and spreading fast, so that they can further spread awareness among masses," said Mohar Singh Gill, a resident of Sirsari village.
WHO theme: Getting to zero
The World Health Organisation (WHO) is observing the World AIDS Day from 2011 to 2015 on the theme, 'Getting to zero', which encompasses "Getting to zero, zero new HIV infections, zero discrimination and zero Aids-related deaths".
As per the information from the WHO website, AIDS has claimed about 25 million lives in the past three decades across the world.
Source: WHO website
50-million projected number of HIV-affected people by 2012
34 million the figure stood by the end of 2011