Five fold Jump in HIV+ patients in West Bengal feared
In 2009, the number of HIV+ cases in West Bengal stood at 27,000. Less than three months into 2010, the figure jumped to 125,000 - a rise of nearly 500 per cent - fear West Bengal State AIDS Control and Prevention Society (WBSACPS) officials.india Updated: Mar 19, 2010 12:30 IST
In 2009, the number of HIV+ cases in West Bengal stood at 27,000. Less than three months into 2010, the figure jumped to 125,000 - a rise of nearly 500 per cent - fear West Bengal State AIDS Control and Prevention Society (WBSACPS) officials.
WBSACPS authorities reached the latest figure after a survey of the HIV-prone areas.
The rise has prompted the officials to seek a meeting with National AIDS Control Organisation (NACO) in New Delhi on March 23.
"We will discuss the issue with NACO officials and chalk out a plan on how to strengthen the screening of suspected HIV+ persons," said Dr DN Goswami, joint director, WBSACPS.
The first HIV+ patients in India were spotted in 1986 in Chennai and Kolkata.
Maharastra, believed to have the largest number of HIV+ patients, had witnessed 11,938 new cases being registered between November 2006 and May 2009.
"We met antenatal mothers, truck drivers and sex workers. We suspect 72 to 80 per cent subjects in these pockets are undetected HIV+ cases," said a WBSACPS source.
"There could be an HIV pandemic waiting to happen unless we bring them to integrated counseling and testing centres (ICTC) for treatment," the official added.
West Bengal has 142 ICTCs, while it needs at least 300. The result: a high-risk group can't be screened.
In comparison, the ICTCs in Maharastra rose from 1,476 to 5,155 between 2007 and 2009.
In Bengal the districts of West Midnapore, South 24-Parganas, North 24-Parganas, Howrah, Hooghly, Murshidabad, North Dinajpur and Jalpaiguri have emerged as particularly high-risk zones, because of inadequate testing/treatment infrastructure.
Apart from the last two, all other districts are in south Bengal.
HIV is most prevalent in Andhra Pradesh, Maharastra, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Manipur and Nagaland.
According to a NACO figure, 2 and 3.1 million Indians were living with HIV and AIDS virus in 2006.