GUWAHATI: New HIV infections are seen more among women than men in Assam. But the development is not a cause of much worry and concern for doctors in the State.
An AIDS specialist told The Sentinel that increase in the number of new HIV infections in the State can mostly be attributed to the fact that women are coming forward for screening and testing to know their HIV status.
“Women are more aware and cautious about their health than their male counterparts. The number of women coming forward for screening and testing of HIV infections to government hospitals is double than men. The development will go a long way in creating massive awareness about HIV and AIDS since women can influence their other family members to go for screening and test,” the expert said.
On the other hand, the latest estimate made by the National AIDS Control Organization (NACO) and Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) has found 1,387 new HIV infections in Assam in 2017 with a staggering 37 per cent increase. The State had also reported 266 AIDS-related deaths in 2017 which was a 26 per cent increase, with women accounting for 38 per cent.
A NACO expert said Assam being a gateway to the other North Eastern States has turned into a melting point of migrant workers with truckers included. Such people become vulnerable to unsafe and multiple sexual contacts spreading the risk of HIV infections, he said. Majority of spouses of HIV-positive women in Assam were involved in high-risk behaviour, especially unprotected sex with commercial sex workers
Besides Assam other NE States have also reported a sharp increase in the number of new HIV infections.
The latest report of NACO and ICMR states that Assam, Meghalaya and Mizoram have a high rate of annual new HIV infection trend with each State reporting an increase of 37, 10 and 18 per cent respectively.
Mizoram, Manipur and Nagaland were accounted as states with adult (15-49 years) HIV prevalence above the national average. Mizoram, Manipur and Nagaland each reported 2.04, 1.43 and 1.15 per cent respectively. “There has been a rise in endemic drug usage and use of the infected syringe in Manipur and Mizoram. HIV infection among drug users is quite high in both the States,” the expert said.