AIDS counselling and testing centre launched in Chandigarh
To provide better facilities to high risk groups, the state AIDS control society launched the 21st Integrated Counseling and Testing Centre in the Transport Area, Sector 26.
Here, free confidential testing for HIV and syphilis will be provided.
The centre was inaugurated by health secretary, Anurag Agarwal. It has been established under the Public Private Partnership (PPP) mode, wherein an NGO, Transport Corporation of India Foundation (TCIF) has also contributed.
The HIV prevalence in Chandigarh has been brought down to 0.11%, far below the national figure of 0.27%.
“The testing centre is strategically located in an area where the ‘bridge’ population comprising of truckers and migrants can easily access the testing services. There are about 250 long distance trucks that halt at this point. These truck drivers and attendants travelling more than 800 km away from home are vulnerable to HIV and STIs,” states an official statement.
In Chandigarh, it has been seen that a higher HIV positive cases are present in this section of the society.
One targeted intervention project for truckers and another for migrants is being implemented by Chandigarh State AIDS Control Society (CSACS) through the TCIF in the hot spot areas of Sector 26, Manimajra, Daria and around.
It is expected that with the establishment of this centre, testing of the high risk groups leading to early detection of the disease and early initiation of treatment, would eventually lead to stoppage of HIV transmission.
Dr Manish Chandra, project head from TCIF, in response to the request by the Health Secretary announced that the Laboratory would soon also provide free basic tests to the community.
Project director, Chandigarh SACS, Dr Vanita Gupta informed that in Chandigarh, easy access to testing services and extensive awareness generation activities have resulted in larger number of voluntary testing.
“Testing has increased from 62,621 people tested in 2012 to 1,12,281 people tested in 2016-17,” she said.
She said that early treatment will not only provide a good quality and longevity of life to the infected person, but also break the transmission of HIV.