Casual approach of people towards AIDS in Arunchal Pradesh has resulted in a 100 fold jump in HIV positive cases in the last 14 years even though the state government has made efforts to create awareness about it.
In 1998 when the Arunachal Pradesh Aids Control Society was set up, only two HIV positive cases were reported in the entire state, but the figure rose to 202 as per the latest count made in December, 2012.
"People are still very casual in approach to the disease," Deputy Director of Arunachal Pradesh Aids Control Society (APSACS), Tasor Pali, said.
"Unless people are aware, no effort of waging war against AIDS will bear fruit," Pali, who is also in charge of Information Education Communication, said.
According to a recent survey by the National AIDS Control Organisation (NACO), estimated cases of AIDS in the state was 1080, Pali said.
He said the actual number of AIDS positive cases would be much higher as the figures available with APSACS were only of those who voluntarily came for testing.
"Awareness is the only visible vaccine available against the killer disease," he said.
According to APSACS, the number of male HIV positive patients in the state was 137 and female 65.
APSACS has been engaged in targeted intervention through several NGOs working under it of high risk groups such as sex workers, intravenous drug users, truck drivers and migrant labourers.
India has the world's third largest HIV/AIDS-affected population and the Northeast the worst-affected, according to the United Nations.
"The number of HIV+ cases is increasing only because more and more people are being detected by integrated counselling and testing centres (ICTC) set up in the districts," Project Director, APSACS Dr. Dani Duri, said.
During the earlier years, few cases was detected because of fewer ICTCs in the state, he said.
Describing the situation as bleak, Duri said, "There may be many more such cases
since people are afraid of HIV tests."
Of the total cases detected in the state, 101 are registered in the lone Anti Retroviral
Therapy (ART) Centre at Naharlagun General Hospital, while the remaining cases have not been registered due to ignorance about the fatality of the disease.
An ART Centre provides free vaccine to patients.
Besides the Naharlagun General Hospital, four linked centres are being set up in Bomdila, Aalo, Tezu and Changlang, Duri said.
He said APSACS is contemplating to start testing at primary health centres and community health centres in the state for people who cannot afford to travel to the district headquarters for being tested for the disease.
The APSACS, which launched multi-media campaign since 2010 on HIV/AIDS to make people aware about the disease has done so in nine more districts -- Lower Subansiri, Upper Subansiri, West Siang, East Siang, Lower Dibang Valley, Lohit, Changlang, Tirap and Papum Pare.