Dubious distinction

As many as 30,013 persons, including 1,637 pregnant women tested positive for HIV between 2002 and 2011. Of them, 2,067 have died and more than 800 children are living with the syndrome. The Anti-retroviral Therapy (ART) centre, opened in 2006, has enrolled 20,010 patients for treatment, including 15,436 from Bagalkot, 2,326 from Mudhol and 1,705 from Jamkhandi. Of them 11,831 patients are being given the therapy after the CD4 test (measuring T-helper cells which fight infections and indicate immunity in a patient’s body). As many as 8,179 patients, whose CD4 counts were above 350 cells, were not given ART, said Dr S H Arahunasi, project director, District AIDS Prevention and Control unit.

However, the Unit’s statistics couldn’t be accurate as majority of the HIV patients migrate to other cities or go to private clinics for treatment, Arahunasi said. Even the death of a patient is hidden by relatives, fearing social stigma.

Mudhol and Jamkhandi taluks have the highest number of HIV/AIDS patients. Dr A B Chowdhury, the Health and Family Welfare Officer said on an average of 10 to 15  HIV/AIDS affected people died every month in the district, while the death rate was 15-20 last year.

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