Surat AIDS bomb ticks away | india | Hindustan Times
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Surat AIDS bomb ticks away

Surat may soon become the city with the highest number of AIDS cases in Gujarat with 300,000 suspected carriers there.

india Updated: Mar 17, 2004 01:11 IST

Surat may soon become the city with the highest number of AIDS cases in Gujarat with 300,000 suspected carriers living and working here.

Experts think prostitution and large-scale migration have led to the problem.

Surat is the only city in Gujarat with an organised "red-light" area. Premarital promiscuity, sex with prostitutes and homosexuality are part of everyday life here. Even police records show that there are around 5,000 prostitutes in Surat, a majority of whom are AIDS virus carriers.

The menace of AIDS is graver than usually understood since migrant workers who work in Surat in large numbers return to their native places taking the risk across several hundred kilometres to their families.

The city houses more than 17 lakh migrant labourers from Orissa, Andhra Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh and Tamil Nadu besides wage labourers from Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Bihar, and Maharashtra besides Gujarat. The largest workforce, however, come from Ganjam district in Orissa, and proportionately also take the biggest hit in terms of AIDS infection.

Pratap Jena, 28, belonged to Maulpalli Village at Polsora block in Orissa's Ganjam district. He was working as a textile labour in Surat (Gujarat). His sudden death on February 1, 2004, sent shock waves through the large migrant labour community, which toil in Surat's textile industry.